THE Anakpawis party-list on Saturday blasted Liberal Party (LP) standard bearer Interior Secretary Manuel “Mar” Roxas 2nd for avoiding questions raised on the status of the government’s shelter aid program, which aims to provide financial assistance to Yolanda affected families.
Rep. Fernando Hicap was referring to Roxas’ recent Iloilo City trip wherein he was asked to give an opinion on the problems besetting the Emergency Shelter Assistance (ESA).
It was reported that Roxas said, “Well, whose agency is supposed to…” The reporters during the ambush interview replied the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD). He then asked, “What is my agency?” He then thanked the people and left the room.
The ESA program is implemented by the DSWD in coordination with the local government unit to provide cash assistance for the victims of Typhoon Yolanda who lost their homes.
Hicap said Roxas should answer the issue head on because local government units have a role in the implementation of the program.
“Evading a legitimate query basically is like abandoning state responsibility to all victims-survivors of typhoon Yolanda,” he said.
Under the ESA, a family whose house had been totally damaged will received P30,000 while P10,000 is given for owners of partially damaged houses.
“Reports from local organizations in -affected areas from Eastern, Central Visayas, Iloilo and some parts of Panay Island said that the some local government officials are involved in kase-kase scheme,” he added.
Hicap explained that in this loan scheme, financiers make a profit by getting 16 percent of what the shelter aid beneficiaries receive and that there are reports that loan sharks are directly claiming the cash aid from DSWD regional officers.
“Roxas should also investigate this highly irregular practice involving local government units that prey on typhoon victims’ already miserable economic state,” he underscored.
The lawmaker also criticized the Social Welfare department for concealing the real status of the program’s implementation.
According to the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council website, as of April 2014, houses damaged by the typhoon reached 1.1 million with 551,000 totally damage and 580,400 partially damage.
He noted that the DSWD Memo Circular No. 24 states that there are 493, 912 partially damaged houses while there are 518, 878 totally damaged houses.
The Circular enumerates the requirements for the ESA distribution but this also allegedly contains unjust pre conditions. The conditions include requiring beneficiaries to present a DSWD disaster family access card, those who did not receive any aid from nongovernment organizations, those who live in government-declared safe zones, government and private workers receive a monthly salary of less than P15,000 while contractual government employees should have no housing loans from the government or from private groups.
Hicap said the DSWD Memo was one of the reasons there was a decrease in the number of ESA beneficiaries. Moreover, the delay of the distribution added to the Yolanda survivor’s frustration that they are forced to deal with loan sharks.