‘Yolanda’ victims ask: Where’s our housing?
Survivors of Supertyphoon “Yolanda” (international name: Haiyan) in Samar urged President Rodrigo Duterte to fulfill the promises he made during his last State of the Nation Address and investigate what they described as “anomalous housing projects” for survivors of the 2013 disaster.
Community of Yolanda Survivors and Partners (CYSP), a coalition of 163 communities devastated by Yolanda, complained that many of the housing projects are substandard or nonexistent.
“We find it shocking that after four years, we’re still in talks for permanent housing for the survivors,” said Florina Reyes of Eastern Samar province.
“The Duterte administration made a commitment to speed up the transfer of survivors in relocation sites. But in our area covering eight municipalities in Eastern Samar, four towns are just starting to put up evacuation sites while the four others have not even started,” Reyes said.
There are around 4,753 relocation beneficiaries from these eight towns alone, Reyes added.
Dhon Daganasol of Katarungan, one of the local groups under CYSP in Eastern Samar, said some of the housing units are so substandard, beneficiaries filed a “notice of refusal” with the National Housing Authority (NHA) last month.
“The hollow blocks and cement are so weak, they’re brittle to the touch,” Daganasol said.
“Instead of having peace of mind, we can’t accept such housing units. We might have survived Yolanda, but we’ll most likely get killed with these [houses],” Daganasol added.
In Barangay Cansumangkay in Balangiga town, Reyes said the model relocation houses have been derisively called “dancing houses” because “if you shake them, they will move.”
In the same barangay, CYSP said they found substandard, including what looked like sardine cans used as downspouts. “Is that within standards of materials for [government] housing?” Daganasol asked.
The problem, Daganasol said, was that the sites were planned without consultation with the beneficiaries.
The NHA’s designs for the houses appeared to be for urban areas and are not suitable for farming and fishing communities. “Where will they place their livestock, their tools for their livelihood?” Reyes said.
“We’ve been [meeting] with the NHA regional office for four years, but it’s like they’re playing deaf to our appeals,” Daganasol said.
Although the NHA started surveying the relocation sites last year, there has been no follow through since.
Reyes cited NHA data as of February that for the whole of Eastern Visayas, the government has only completed 29 percent of the targeted number of housing units, or 13,238 out of 45,208.
“This is a very small number for a period of four years,” Reyes said. “Transitional housing have almost rotted away because of natural wear and tear over the years and over many weather disturbances, yet the plans for permanent housing are still unclear.”
Lack of land
Another problem in Eastern Samar, Reyes said, was the lack of land for the socialized housing, considering a Commission on Audit requirement that the lots should be titled.
“The problem is, in Eastern Samar, 70 percent of the land aren’t titled,” Reyes said.
In Palawan province, CYSP claims almost none of the 8,760 resettlement units for Yolanda survivors in Agutaya, Busuanga, Coron, Culion and Linapacan towns have been completed.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.