TACLOBAN CITY – The Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC) will come up with policies to ensure that victims of calamities will be involved in the planning of post-disaster housing projects.
HUDCC Assistant Secretary Leira Buan said the mistakes in the implementation of permanent housing projects for Super Typhoon Yolanda survivors are a result of the previous administration’s failure to consult with beneficiaries.
“Before, they build thousands of small houses in inaccessible areas. That’s why it’s really challenging to provide water and electricity in some of these housing sites,” said Buan during the Open Government and Participatory Governance Regional Dialogues at Hotel Alejandro here Thursday.
The HUDCC official made the statement after some groups raised concerns on substandard housing projects and unoccupied units.
These problems prompted the HUDCC to come up with a uniformed policy to always include beneficiaries in the post-disaster rehabilitation planning process.
“Whatever we will do, we will always listen to the point of view of people affected by calamities and not just focus on quantity, but quality as well,” Buan said.
In 2014, the government approved releasing PHP19 billion for permanent housing of “Yolanda” victims in the central Philippines.
Buan admitted that many of the houses built are still unoccupied.
“In our investigations, we found out that substandard project is a result of lack of consultation,” Buan said. “This is very hard but we are trying our best to catch up. The problem is where to get budget since the fund was already allocated in the past.”
In Eastern Visayas region alone, only 12,000 out of 56,000 target permanent houses for typhoon survivors have been completed last year. Most of these housing units are in this city, considered as Yolanda’s ground zero.
The policy of consultation has been applied in building relocation projects in war-torn Marawi City.
HUDCC is the government agency which serves as the oversight, the over-all coordinator, initiator and facilitator of all government policies, plans and programs for the housing sector.
Department of Budget and Management Secretary Benjamin Diokno, the keynote speaker of the two-day gathering, said the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte truly recognizes the value of citizen engagement in governance.
“Through various citizen engagement programs, we are making sure that governance is not limited to government alone. We are opening up government by providing citizens with a seat at the policy table, and giving them a legitimate voice and vote in what the government does and plans to do in the years to come,” Diokno told participants of the town hall session.
Presidential Communications Operations Office Assistant Secretary Kristian Ablan said the dialogue is an effective way for local and national leaders to meet constituents. “This is to genuinely engage people and directly interface with high government officials.”
This is the last round of Open Government Partnership dialogues.
Earlier senior government official held sessions in Bacolod, General Santos, Zamboanga, Manila, and Baguio City.