3 years after devastation, only a third of 3,112 core shelters finished
The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) has found that only a third of its promised 3,112 core shelters and only half of its promised 2,480 “transition homes” for survivors of Supertyphoon “Yolanda” have been completed three years after the devastation.
The DSWD has called the situation “shameful.”
“It was very disappointing to see how three years later, 62 percent of the core shelters of the DSWD for Yolanda survivors have not been built,” said Assistant Secretary Aleli Bawagan, who was directed by Secretary Judy Taguiwalo to head the investigation into the department’s Yolanda projects and use of funds from the government and donations.
“It was shameful,” Bawagan said on Monday. “Many lost their loved ones; most lost all they have worked for. The least that should have been done to help them was to ensure they have safe and comfortable houses. We failed to do this.”
The DSWD under Taguiwalo’s predecessor, Corazon Soliman, planned to build 3,112 core shelters at P70,000 each, using an Asian Development Bank grant (1,559 units), cash donations (1,113 units) and the DSWD’s quick response fund (440 units).
But as of Aug 15 this year, the construction of the bulk of the core shelters had not yet started.
Only 1,017 units, or 32 percent of the total, had been completed. These are in Occidental Mindoro province, 240 units; Capiz, 683; Iloilo, 77; and Leyte, 8.
Another 160 units in Capiz province and 60 in Leyte are under construction.
The DSWD traced the delay in construction to the lack of relocation site provided by the local government; insufficient budget for the core shelter assistance program, and competition for supplies and labor.
Due to the delay, some survivors have decided not to avail themselves of the core shelter program anymore.
In Inopacan, Leyte province, 64 of the 350 beneficiaries have backed out because they do not want to demolish their current homes, a condition set by the DSWD for the grant of P70,000 in core shelter assistance.
Vice President Leni Robredo, chief of the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council, told a news conference on Monday that the delay was not caused by lack of funds but by “the requirements of the government itself.”
Robredo said the requirements included the reclassification of agricultural land to residential land.
She also mentioned the National Housing Authority policy that a property has to be titled before a housing project can begin, a process that takes two to three years.
Another “choke point” is the Bureau of Internal Revenue’s issuance of certificate of tax exemption, she said.
Robredo said she had raised the delay with President Duterte, adding that her office had drafted an executive order that allowed government agencies to accept alternative proof of land ownership for Yolanda survivors other than a land title.
She said Mr. Duterte had agreed to sign the order. —WITH A REPORT FROM NIKKO DIZON
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