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‘Yolanda’ survivors push for ‘People’s Plan’ in absence of gov’t response

TACLOBAN CITY- The Community of Yolanda Survivors and Partners (CYSP), an alliance of 163 devastated communities and 10 non-governmental organizations, has pushed for the adaption of a ‘People’s Plan’ in the communities affected by the onslaught of super typhoon ’Yolanda’ as an alternative to the government program.
“The housing program, it appears, is not designed for the betterment of lives. It was, and remains to be, all for compliance and accomplishment,” said the group as they worked on the People’s Plan which, according to them, has a similar concept to that of a community mortgage program (CMP) or a housing cooperative.
“They want a collective business, from a mini-grocery to a botika ng barangay to a patahian ng uniform. What marvel ideas come up, if only they had been given that chance prior to the oppressive NHA units,” said Katarungan-Eastern Visayas, a member organization of CYSP, in a statement.
In Barangay 6 in Giporlos, Eastern Samar alone, the group said that Yolanda survivors are “making a go of their People’s Plan.”
“When the concept of the onsite development was explored, their membership rose from 54 to 124, further evidence that it is the distance and accessibility to their sources of livelihood that is the determining factor in their choice of location for a relocation site. People’s Plan, we said, is a venue for their voices to finally be held,” the group said.
“In the first draft, we had 13 barangays in Lawaan, Balangiga, and Giporlos in Eastern Samar. We’re working on the second draft because we have already reached 15 barangays to include those in Gen. Mac Arthur, Eastern Samar. Once it is finished, we’re targeting a July submission,” Rina Reyes, project coordinator of land rights group Rights Network and leader of CYSP.
“We’re hoping to submit the People’s Plan to Usec. Avisado, Rep. Alfredo Benitez, who heads the committee on housing of the House of Representatives, local government units, Department of Agriculture, Department of Agrarian Reform, Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, and Inter-Agency Task Force Yolanda,” Reyes said in an interview.
“Moving to a distant location would post more burden on them. They said the price increase, exacerbated by the TRAIN Law, on gasoline and kerosene were between P12-15. This also affected price increases in other commodities, and they said rice is the highest today at P48-50 per kilo. These rising prices, additional costs, when relocated to the poorly built NHA housing units and difficulty in accessing their source of livelihood are too much of a social cost for these Yolanda Victims,” she added.
The CYSP has remained at the forefront in demanding the results of the series of provincial grassroots consultation and the promised post evaluation activity from the office of Usec. Wendel Avisado, the oversight official of Yolanda rehabilitation projects tasked by President Rodrigo Duterte.
From March to April 2018, Avisado led at least nine grassroots consultations in five Yolanda affected provinces in Region 8. (RONALD O. REYES)

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