Anakpawis lawmaker urges Duterte to investigate Yolanda fund

Members of Anakpawis protest againt anomaly on ESA distribution under the Aquino government.Members of Anakpawis protest againt anomaly on ESA distribution under the Aquino government.

Manila, Philippines – A day before the 3rd year anniversary of the tragedy brought up by the super-typhoon Yolanda (int’l name Haiyan), Anakpawis Party-list Representative Ariel “Ka Ayik” Casilao urged President Rodrigo Duterte to order the investigation of what happened on the multi-billion peso Yolanda rehabilitation and reconstruction fund.

The aftermath of the Yolanda particularly in the Eastern Visayas region prompted the Aquino government to release funds to help the survivors of the category 5 super-typhoon. At least 6,300 died as reported by the government, mostly from Leyte and Samar proinces. Damage to infrastructure and other sectors amounted to more than P89 billion.

To address this, the government has proposed the Yolanda Comprehensive Rehabilitation and Recovery Plan (CRRP), the national government’s commitment to implement over 25,000 disaster rehabilitation- and recovery-specific projects, programs, and activities. But during the implementation, irregularities were reported such as the rotting relief packs in warehouses of the Department of Social Welfare and Dev’t (DSWD), absence or delayed distribution of Emergency Shelter Assistance (ESA) and over-priced bunkhouses.

“Last week, DSWD Sec. Taguiwalo bared that there are only P30 million left on the billions of pesos in the combined government and private donations. Last year, then the Aquino government released P90 B for Yolanda aid but despite the massive fund flow, the welfare agency is seeking additional fund ostensibly to be given to 200,000 ESA beneficiaries,” said Casilao.

Based on the policy guidelines of NEDA’s Reconstruction Assistance for Yolanda, the CRRP has a total funding requirement of more than P167 billion. Of this, the DBM reported that almost P52 billion has been released to fund the typhoon relief, rehabilitation, and recovery efforts.

Moreover, the Anakpawis solon expressed disappointment on the slow construction of permanent shelter for typhoon victims.

With the comprehensive plan targeting 205,000 housing units for the typhoon victims, a tiny one percent or 25,000 units were completed, according to Vice-President and Housing and Urban Dev’t Coordinating Council Chief Leni Robredo herself. Some of these were in in Hernani, Eastern Samar, where only 200 out of 900 housing units were completed by the NHA. She cited bureaucratic process and corruption were the main cause of such sorry delay but cut short mentioning putting blame on the incompetent response of the Aquino government.

According to the local city housing of Tacloban, out of 14,162 permanent houses in which NHA promised to build; a dismal 572 were completed. On the other hand, NGOs constructed 556 out of its planned 2,169 permanent housing. The NHA also admitted that only 5,767 it had been completed as of mid-February, far cry from its 13,928 housing units’ target on the end of the year 2016.

The NHA is constructing 8,161 houses in 19 sites located at the northern villages of Leyte. But despite the completion of thousands of units, around 200 houses are occupied by families from high risk zones due to the absence of a permanent water supply and electricity.

During the 16th congress, then Anakpawis Rep. Fernando “Ka Pando” Hicap filed numerous legislative measures on the Yolanda rehabilitation issue, such as the House Resolution No. 669 on sub-standard bunkhouses, HR 947 on the implementation of the “no build – no dwell” zone, HR 2322 on the anomalous distribution of ESA and HR 1950 on the real damage assessment of typhoons Ruby and Seniang on Yolanda-hit areas.

“The Yolanda government response is criminal negligence right in front our faces and contempt on the thousands of victims. The Duterte presidency should take this seriously as and hold those primarily responsible answerable to the people. The president should ensure the culpability of Aquino and his cohorts who cold-bloodedly pillaged the public funds intented for the Yolanda victims,” Casilao concluded. ###