WITHIN the next three days, there will no longer be bunkhouses in Tacloban City, Social Welfare and Development Secretary Corazon Soliman said on Wednesday even as she twitted politicians for using disaster funds and management as issues in their electoral campaigns.
“We are assuring [the public] that by the end of October, there will no longer be bunkhouses in Tacloban. These aren’t safe so we’ll remove them,” Soliman told The Standard in a chance interview at an anti-dengue activity in Marikina City.
“They [politicians] should not use that the issue of the donations for [Typhoons] ‘‘Yolanda’’ and ‘‘Lando’’ for their campaigns,” Soliman said, disputing the claim of Vice President Jejomar Binay and Senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr. for asking what happened to the aid for disaster victims.
Soliman denied Binay’s accusations that the Aquino administration has been selective in distributing aid in non-LP local governments damaged by Typhoon Lando.
At the same time, she defended Liberal Party standard bearer Manuel Roxas and his running mate Camarines Sur Rep. Leni Robredo for using government funds and government activities to campaign for office.
“If [Mar and Leni] were invited, they are invited by the people as resource persons. I do trust the people that they can’t be fooled. They cannot be used. The awareness of the beneficiaries of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino program is clear on what’s straight and what’s bent.” Soliman said.
Also on Wednesday, Roxas tried to explain in a radio interview some of the incidents for which he has repeatedly been criticized.
“I think it’s clear that the government has done everything we can. In fact, we were there even before Yolanda came. We were there and we have done everything,” Roxas said in an interview with radio dzMM. Roxas explained why he told Tacloban Mayor Alfred Romualdez in a meeting in Tacloban City in November 2013 that “You must remember that you are a Romualdez and the President is an Aquino” “What I want to say is that I don’t want that to be politicized,” Roxas said, adding that President Benigno Aquino III was also misinterpreted when he told a Tacloban City businessman complaint about the looting in the city: “Eh, buhay ka pa naman, di ba,” [Your’e still alive, aren’t you?].
Nonetheless, Soliman said there will no longer be any family living in the bunkhouses that were also criticized for being indecently small and substandard.
According to government data, at least 992 families were still in bunkhouses and 613 are in temporary shelters, as of September.
But it was revealed in a Senate hearing earlier this month that the Aquino administration had built less than one-tenth, or 16,000, of the 205,128 homes that were supposed to be built for those affected by the Yolanda.
National Housing Authority general manager Sinforoso Pagunsan said 73,000 housing units are being constructed for Yolanda victims, adding that of this number, 45,000 units are expected to be completed in December this year while the remaining units will be constructed by July 2016.
NHA officials during the Senate hearing said that the delay was due to problems with land acquistion as well as the need to secure various permits to ensure the area was safe.
The government plans to build 205,128 houses by July 2016 in the provinces hit by Yolanda. Soliman added further that all Yolanda funds are already used up and were already given out to typhoon-hit families.
“What was allocated to us was only P18 billion for Emergency Shelter Assistance, from the [Comprehensive Rehabilitation and Recovery Program for Yolanda] funds. That fund has all been given out to all the more than 900,000 families in Regions 4-B, Northern Cebu, in Region 6, Region 8. And they can look at our website, its all accounted there,” Soliman said.
Soliman said the government is already setting-up water tanks in the permanent shelters to augment in the daily water supply needs.
“But this is a short term solution to the water problems in the resettlement sites. The permanent houses will have water connections,” Soliman said.
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