Aquino administration may be held liable for 'missing' Yolanda funds

Doris Bigornia, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 26 2017 03:26 AM

Three years after super typhoon Yolanda hit the country, close to 6,000 families in Tacloban City, Leyte, have yet to be given permanent housing.

Cabinet Secretary Leoncio Evasco told reporters that "turfing," or turf wars, among other reasons, has caused the delay in the completion of the housing project.

Based on National Housing Authority records, of the 14,433 families needing housing units, only 8,106 units have been constructed and 5,617 were awarded and turned over to beneficiaries. 

NHA general manager Marcelino P. Escalada, Jr. said half of the 8,000 units were constructed, completed and turned over during the Duterte administration.

The Aquino administration turned over half of that more than two years after Yolanda, while the Duterte administration was able to do it in two months.

President Rodrigo Duterte had wanted the NHA to complete the turnover by December last year.

Escalada said he will have to explain to the president that two months is way faster than the typical construction and awarding of housing units.

Evasco, who replaced Vice President Leni Robredo as head of the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC) after she resigned from the cabinet last December, added the government is still gathering evidence against the previous administration over allegations of missing Yolanda funds, which include those allotted to housing projects.

He said officials under former President Benigno Aquino III are still not off the hook.

"Sinisilip pa namin sila," Evasco said.

Evasco earlier inspected the housing units to be turned over to 1,000 Tacloban beneficiaries in Barangay Sta. Elena.

In the whole "Yolanda corridor," 206,128 houses are needed. More than 42,000 have been completed and 13,266 have been awarded and turned over

Evasco said the December 2016 deadline set by the president may not have been met but he is now consolidating the efforts of all local government units, and looking at different rules and policies governing the LGUs, make them work and be in sync, so that the housing project will be fast-tracked.

The NHA said they may be able to deliver everything by July.

Problems like distance to their workplace and unavailable water source are among the beneficiaries' complaints about their housing units.