Palace on bunkhouses: No need to follow int'l standards

By Willard Cheng, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 08 2014 02:51 PM | Updated as of Jan 09 2014 12:46 AM

MANILA - Malacañang expressed support for the investigation being pushed by Secretary Ping Lacson into the alleged 30-35 percent in kickbacks in rehabilitation projects in areas affected by typhoon Yolanda.

Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said the President is now awaiting Lacson’s report on the matter.

“His role as coordinator involves a number of facets [in the rehabilitation work]. Part of it also is to ensure that everything we do is aboveboard, everything we do should withstand the test of transparency, accountability. And I think when there were allegations made, it was duty-bound for him. Because as rehabilitation coordinator, he will be answerable to all those… accusations. So he found it fit to investigate and to look into those allegations,” Lacierda said.

Meantime, Public Works Secretary Rogelio Singson has submitted a report to the President denying allegations that bunkhouses being built are overpriced.

The Palace again stressed that the construction of bunkhouses would be aboveboard.

While saying that the bunkhouses do not meet the international standard of having at least 20 square meters per unit, Lacierda said it meets Philippine standards and the need to provide safety for the affected families.

He also rejected observations that bunkhouses are not designed to be humane, pointing out that the size of each unit is being adjusted to house one family in a bigger space following observations from international experts.

Bigger families, he said, would not be made to live in a small unit.

“It’s not substandard. Our standard is we follow the building code,” Lacierda said.

“Our concern right now is to house them. Number one, safety. Number two, you don’t want to have congestion. Even if you room it into a 12-family bunkhouse, it’s no longer that cramped. We’re following our standards. We don’t necessarily have to follow international standards. Because our concern is safety, our concern is it should not be congested.”

When asked about the time wasted because of the need now no reconfigure the units, Lacierda said, “It’s just a matter of tearing down a wall… Things happen. We recognize there were some concerns from the international aid experts. We’ve taken [care of that] and we have responded,” he said.

Lacierda also stressed that the bunkhouses are temporary and that government is also building permanent homes.