TACLOBAN CITY – The city government here has used a part of its economic development fund to procure lots in the northern part of Tacloban intended as resettlement sites for families whose houses were damaged due to supertyphoon Yolanda.

Budget officer Vicente Dy III said that out of the 20 percent development fund, which is sourced from the city’s share on internal revenue allotment (IRA), the city government could construct houses for survivors of Yolanda who totally lost their dwellings. For this year, Tacloban’s IRA is P478.53 million of which P95.71 million has been allocated for its 20 percent development fund. However, of the P95.71 million, only P63.71 million has been earmarked for land acquisition as the remaining amount of P32 million will be use for garbage collection. The utilization conforms to the guidelines issued by both the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) and the Department of Budget and Management (DBM), Dy said.

Under these guidelines, local government units can also use the fund for the purchase and development of land for relocation of victims of calamities. “We have to provide permanent houses to the 10,000 families living in the no build zone areas and also those who are living in temporary shelters,” Dy said. At present, the city has only acquired 10 hectares resettlement site in the northern villages, with a total value of P10 million. The city government needs at least 100 hectares to accommodate the 10,000 families that would be relocated in the northern barangays. “It takes us a lot of time because we have to expropriate those properties whose owners refused to sell their lands to the government,” he said. The city government earlier enforced an expropriation of 25 hectares of private lands owned by six landowners, however, the other three owners declined to sell the property, prompting the government to bring the case to court.

Still under litigation are 12.5 hectares of proposed resettlement sites in the city’s northern villages. Tacloban, considered as Yolanda’s ground zero, has recorded 54,231 damaged houses, with 30,153 as totally damaged and 23,718 as partially destroyed. (WILMA JOY B. ESPINOSA—LNU-Intern)