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Lawmaker seeks House probe of shelter aid program

/ 04:37 AM September 14, 2015

A party-list lawmaker has called for a congressional investigation of what he describes as the restrictive and abuse-prone Emergency Shelter Assistance (ESA) program of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), particularly in areas hit by Supertyphoon “Yolanda” (international name: Haiyan).

Anakpawis Rep. Fernando Hicap has filed House Resolution No. 2322 seeking to look into the “unreasonable restrictive guidelines, cases of political abuse and anomaly in the implementation of the shelter program” of the DSWD in calamity areas.

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“Nearly two months before the second anniversary of the deadliest typhoon that hit the country, victims of Supertyphoon Yolanda still struggle with anguish,” he said in a statement.

Hicap chided the DSWD for delays in the grant of shelter assistance funds as a result of its restrictive guidelines, as well as its “glaring display of incompetence and negligence, and reported cases of abuse and irregularity, [which] flagrantly defeat the emergency and humanitarian nature of the ESA program.”

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In calling for a probe in aid of legislation, he asked Pampanga Rep. Oscar Rodriguez, chair of the House committee on good government and public accountability, to invite DSWD officials and representatives from nongovernmental organizations to shed light on the issue.

The ESA program is supposed to grant P30,000 to Yolanda victims whose houses were destroyed and P10,000 to those whose homes were damaged.

But Hicap said poor typhoon victims were doubly distressed as many of them were being disqualified from the ESA because of inordinately stringent conditions set by the DSWD.

Under the agency’s Memorandum Circular No. 24, those eligible to get the ESA grant are families who are already renting and have availed themselves of the DSWD Disaster Family Access Card (DAFC); contractual government employees with no housing loans from government and private groups; regular workers from the public and private sectors earning lower than P15,000 a month.

Thus, many calamity victims on the islands of Samar, Leyte and Panay have been denied the ESA grant on technicality, such as the location of their residence, their receipt of aid however little from local officials, and the salary cap provision, Hicap said.

He lamented that the salary cap made it seem “as if those earning a little over P15,000 are no longer in dire need of assistance.”—DJ Yap

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TAGS: DSWD, Emergency Shelter Assistance, ESA, Fernando Hicap, House probe, shelter aid, Yolanda aid, Yolanda victims
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