Speaker fears reduced aid for Yolanda rehab over bunkhouses controversy


The allegations of overpriced bunkhouses made by Yolanda Rehabilitation Czar Panfilo Lacson can slow down the rebuilding efforts needed for the victims of Super Typhoon Yolanda (international name: Haiyan), Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. said on Tuesday.

Belmonte expressed such sentiments in light of the allegations made by Lacson that a certain politician are in collusion with contractors with an aim to pocket 30 to 35 percent commissions for the construction of the bunkhouses for the Yolanda victims.

“It is a setback and certainly not the best way to entice donors. It [allegations of overpriced bunkhouses]should have been verified first by police or [Secretary] Singson,” Belmonte said in a chance interview.

Belmonte, Vice Chairman of the ruling Liberal Party (LP), was referring to Secretary Rogelio “Babes” Singson of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH). The DPWH Chief has denied Lacson’s claims and went a step further by vowing to quit his post once such reports of overpriced bunkhouses are proven true.

The international community has at least earmarked P23.8 billion worth of aid for the victims of Super Typhoon Yolanda, the strongest typhoon recorded in the world for 2013.

Yolanda whipped scores of Visayas provinces in November, leaving at 6,000 people dead and pulverized residential properties and government buildings such as schools, hospitals, health centers and city halls.

Rep. Mel Senen Sarmiento of Western Samar, for this part, noted that the Executive is not helpless in the event that there are irregularities involving the construction of bunkhouses.

“If there is non-compliance to the specification, then we let the contractor retrofit the said structure, chargeable to their original contract cost for it to meet the standard, without additional expense on the part of government,” Sarmiento, the Secretary General of the LP, argued.

“That’s why for things like this, there is a retention clause in government contracts and blacklisting of the contractor,” Sarmiento added.

On top of the foreign aid, Congress has passed the P2.264 trillion budget for 2014 which allots P100 billion to address the needs of Yolanda victims, among other natural and man-made calamities.

In addition to the foreign aid and the P100 billion, Congress also passed a P14.6 billion supplemental budget for Yolanda rehabilitation needs. LLANESCA T. PANTI


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