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08:48 PM January 19th, 2013

January 19th, 2013 08:48 PM

SOCIAL Welfare Secretary Corazon Soliman talks with a group of protesters demanding distribution of relief goods in Compostela Valley. KARLOS MANLUPIG

MONTEVISTA, Compostela Valley— Social Welfare Secretary Corazon Soliman denied that the bunkhouses that her agency is building in typhoon-devastated areas are overpriced.

“No, it is not overpriced. You can go to the pricing and that is one of the cheapest,” she said.

“And we are using more permanent materials,” Soliman added.

A bunkhouse, which included bathrooms, a dirty kitchen and sinks, being constructed by the DSWD costs P550,000. The nongovernment group International Organization for Migration (IOM), however, builds a bunkhouse, without bathrooms, dirty kitchen and sinks, for only P200,000.

The bunkhouses are intended to serve as temporary shelters for those who had been rendered homeless by the typhoon, pending construction of new homes for them. But Soliman insisted that the DSWD was using different construction materials compared to IOM-funded bunkhouses.

“Their materials are different from ours. All of our bunkhouses have cemented floors and sides,” Soliman explained.

A check made by the Inquirer revealed that there was little difference between the bunkhouses built by the DSWD and IOM. In the village of San Antonio in Cateel town , Davao Oriental, the bunkhouses built by the DSWD and IOM have coconut lumber for posts and brackets, ordinary plywood for wall, windows and doors, and concrete floors.

The rooms’ floor area is also almost the same—DSWD’s measures 12 feet by 16 feet and IOM’s measures 10 feet by 18 feet.

The “dirty kitchen” is a long concrete cooking counter with steel bars to hold the pots. The sinks are made of concrete with a hole, which serves as drainage, in the middle. The bathrooms have plain GI sheets as walls, while the rest rooms have similar-looking toilet bowls.

The DSWD plans to build a total of 60 bunkhouses in the towns of Boston, Cateel and Baganga in Davao Oriental. Karlos Manlupig

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