UNFINISHED. Photo above shows a resettlment site in Hernani, Eastern Samar that remains unfinished and unused. The project is intended for families who lost their houses due to ‘Yolanda.’ This slow implementation of housing projects sparked a congressional inquiry held in Tacloban City last Friday(Sept.1). (ROEL T. AMAZONA)

Due to delayed ‘Yolanda’ housing projects

TACLOBAN CITY- The committee on urban housing and urban development is mulling for a possible filing of criminal charges against National Housing Authority and the contractors it hired relative to the construction of housing units for families who lost their houses due to super typhoon ‘Yolanda.’
The committee, chaired by Negros Occidental Rep. Alfredo Benitez, conducted a public inquiry here in Tacloban City Friday(Sept.1) on the status of housing units constructed in the aftermath of Yolanda’s onslaught.
Eastern Samar Rep. Ben Evardone, a member of the committee, said that he does not only see “massive corruption” on the Yolanda fund but sees criminal negligence why four years since the catastrophe hit Eastern Visayas, NHA and its assigned contractors have yet to finish the housing projects.
“Definitely, there is a massive corruption in the implementation of this housing project. The mere fact that the implementation is much delayed; they have deprived the people of their assistance and their needs,” Evardone said.
He also alleged that based on their ocular inspection of a housing project in Hernani, Eastern Samar, last Thursday(August 31), the project was “substandard,” without elaborating.
Hernani is one of the towns in the region that was devastated by Yolanda in 2013.
Up to this time, the construction of the 989 houses intended for typhoon survivors have yet to be finished. The construction of these houses started in 2015.
Rep. Vicente Veloso, another committee and from Leyte, said that the fact that the project has long delayed could constitute of criminal negligence on the part of the NHA and its contractors.
“We will just fix the factual basis that we will file to the Department of Justice and its now up to the DOJ to file the appropriate action,” he said.
Of the more than 205,000 housing units intended for areas hit by Yolanda, only 71,930 have been occupied.
In Tacloban City, considered as the ground zero of the world’s strongest typhoon to hit inland, only 9,801 housing units have been occupied out of the 14,433 housing units spread on the 11 resettlement sites in the city.
Rizalde Mediavillo, NHA regional manager, however, said that on his level, he can assure the public that the project was above board.
“I can say that at the regional level, there is no corruption. And those houses that we deemed to have been constructed below the standards, we ask the constructors to fix them,” he said.
He also said that the remaining 4,632 would be completed by 2019.
Asked why the Yolanda housing projects are facing delays, Mediavillo said that lack of land titles of the identified resettlement sites and no takers among contractors to the projects were the factors for the delay.
Rep. Benitez said that to solve this problem, it was agreed that tax declaration should be considered by the Commission on Audit which earlier wanted that land titles be required in procuring lots for resettlement sites and if local government units are willing, for them to undertake the housing project themselves.