MANILA - A couple of subcontractors hired by developers in the rehabilitation of disaster-hit areas in Eastern Visayas revealed on Tuesday alleged anomalies in the housing projects that resulted in either unfinished or substandard units.
In a Senate inquiry, Cesar Baluarte of CQ Baluarte said he was hired by 3R Metalcraft, the contractor tapped for 72 housing units in Yolanda-hit Oromoc City in 2016, and vowed to pay him P10.4 million or P145,000 per unit.
But Baluarte claimed that 3R Metalcraft was still unable to pay them after 5 weeks of work. He said CQ Baluarte finished up to 70 percent of the project before they decided to leave as the contractor only paid them 40 percent of the agreed amount.
Meanwhile, Camilo Salazar said he was hired by a certain Rizalina Almazan to subcontract for the firm JC Tayag Builders who was working for a housing project in disaster-ravaged Eastern Samar in 2016.
However, Salazar said JC Tayag Builders issued checks that bounce, hampering their efforts to proceed with the construction of the housing units. He also claimed that they got substandard materials from the firm's suppliers.
He said they reported the issue on the substandard materials to the National Housing Authority in Region 8 but he was allegedly threatened by the office's head, Rizalde Medialvillo—an accusation the housing official denied during the Senate probe.
The two whistleblowers bared the alleged anomalies in the third hearing of the Senate housing committee about reported substandard housing units built for residents hit by typhoons Sendong, Pablo, Yolanda, and also the the Zamboanga siege.
'P30 BILLION HOUSING FUND WASTED'
Senator JV Ejercito, chair of the committee, said government officials, developers, and contractors should be held liable for the substandard housing projects.
"Tinanong ko 'yung mga general contractor kung sila ba ay nagsa-subcontract. Lahat sila nagsabi na hindi. Pero kahapon, may lumantad na subcontractors na dahil hindi nababayaran, kadalasan ay dinadaya daw nila ang materyal," he said in an interview on radio DZMM Wednesday.
Since 2011 when Sendong hit Northern Mindanao, Ejercito said, at least P30 billion in housing funds were wasted as NHA data showed only 49.6 percent of the projects for these disaster-hit areas were finished, and only 45.6 percent were occupied, as of May 2018.
"Parang wala nang takot 'yung tao ng gobyerno at contractors parang may kontsabahan na sila dito. Parang wala nang takot e. Ang gusto natin, magtanda sila para huwag na maulit muli ang ganitong sistema," the senator said.
Ejercito said he will be releasing a committee report "anytime soon" and recommend charges against concerned officials, including the NHA head of Region 8, whom he believes "acted like a lawyer" for the contractor JC Tayag Builders.