Business World - Senate body to start probe on bunkhouses

In The News
26 January 2014

By Maria Laura V. Angeles | Business World

business_worldTHE SENATE committee on public works will start its probe on the alleged substandard bunkhouses the Public Works department built for survivors of typhoon Yolanda (international name: Haiyan) following a resolution seeking to investigate the matter.

The Senate committee on public works asked rehabilitation czar Panfilo M. Lacson, and Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) Secretary Rogelio L. Singson to appear before the committee during the initial hearing on the controversial bunkhouses this coming Wednesday.

“I believe [Mr.] Lacson could provide the committee with invaluable information that would help us shed light on the alleged anomaly surrounding the construction of the bunkhouses for Yolanda survivors,” Senator Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. said.

Mr. Lacson earlier bared that the construction of bunkhouses is under investigation following receipt of information that the bunkhouses were allegedly constructed not according to international building standards.

Mr. Singson, who denied the alleged overpricing of the bunkhouses, is also expected to appear before the Senate committee on Wednesday.

The DPWH chief vowed to step down from the office if the reports on the bunkhouses being overpriced and substandard are proven to be true.

However, Mr. Singson admitted that it can be possible that some of the specifications in the construction of the bunkhouses were not followed.

Architect and urban planner Felino A. Palafox, Jr. is also summoned to appear before the Senate committee.

Mr. Palafox earlier insisted that the bunkhouses were substandard and undersized. He also said that the bunkhouses are not fit for humans to live in.

Following the reports on the alleged anomaly in the construction of the bunkhouses, Mr. Marcos filed Senate Resolution 439 seeking a Senate probe aimed at instituting corrective measures to ensure the safety and security of those displaced by Yolanda.

“It is crucial to look into these issues to make sure that the victims of Yolanda will no longer be victimized further by corruption and abuses perpetrated by the callous culprits who take advantage of the desolate condition in the affected areas,” Mr. Marcos said in his resolution.

Presidential Spokesperson Edwin S. Lacierda earlier defended the bunkhouses, saying that the structures were built to comply with the Philippine Building Code.

“Let me be clear it is not substandard. Our standard is we follow the [Philippine] Building Code,” he earlier told reporters.

The International Building Code requires a 20-square meter bunkhouse for each family.

Initially a bunkhouse is planned to house 24 families. With international agencies saying that the bunkhouses are too cramped, the government decided to reduce the number of families that will be allowed in each bunkhouse to 12.

The DPWH said each unit in the new bunkhouses will measure 17.28 square meters.