TACLOBAN CITY- From the horses’ mouths- three years before families rendered homeless due to supertyphoon “Yolanda” could have their permanent houses. During a public hearing conducted by the Senate committee on urban planning, housing and resettlement chaired by Senator JV Ejercito in the city, an official of the Office of Presidential Assistant for Recovery and Rehabilitation (OPARR) admitted that it would take them three years or until 2016 before they could provide permanent houses to the 14,433 families whose houses were washed out during the typhoon. For the construction of these houses, P13 billion has been allocated by the NHA to be implemented for the next three years, said OPARR Usec. Leslie Cordero during the November 27 public hearing held this city. The P13 billion was part of the P167.9 billion comprehensive master plan of the national government in the rehabilitation of areas hit by Yolanda. Lorna Seraspe, group manager-Visayas management office of the National Housing Authority (NHA), said for now 90% of the allocated budget this year for the construction of permanent shelters for Tacloban City were already were bid out.

And for this year, they expect to construct 2,000 housing units, 3,000 for next year and the remaining housing needs by 2016. Aside of Ejercito, present during the public hearing were Sen. Ferdinand Bongbong Marcos and congressmen Ferdinand Martin Romualdez, Alfred Benitez and Kit Belmonte. The solons visited bunk houses in Sagkahan and tent houses in San Jose. Ejercito said that pity the families still living in tents and bunkhouses, more than a year after Yolanda pummeled Tacloban. The senator said the reason why they conducted the public hearing in Tacloban is for them to see whatever progress the national government on its rehabilitation efforts, especially on area of resettlement of families who lost their houses during the disaster. (RONALD O. REYES)