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People's Journal - Senators press bunkhouses probe

In The News
10 January 2014

By Bernadette Tamayo | People's Journal

Featured-Image-Journal-OnlineAT least three senators have called for an investigation into the reported “sub-standard and overpriced” bunkhouses built for survivors of super typhoon Yolanda in the Visayas region to give them a more decent temporary shelter instead of living in tents.

Senators Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. and Miriam Defensor-Santiago yesterday filed separate resolutions seeking an inquiry into the controversy amid the “pledge” of Public Works Secretary Rogelio Singson that he will resign if the allegation is true.

Sen.JV Ejercito had earlier pressed for a public hearing into the reports that each bunkhouse costs around P1 million which some sectors claimed is overpriced by almost P800,000.

Marcos filed Senate Resolution No. 439 directing the Senate Committee on Public Works to probe, in aid of legislation, the alleged questionable construction of bunkhouses in Tacloban. He sought the inquiry “to institute corrective measures to ensure the safety and security of those displaced by the catastrophe.”

“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,” Marcos said.

Santiago filed Senate Resolution No. 436 seeking a Senate investigation on reports that some 203 bunkhouses being developed by the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) in Leyte and Eastern Samar allegedly do not comply with internationally recognized standards and best practices.

“This controversy multiplies the suffering of our countrymen in the typhoon-affected areas, as they faced devastation from a natural disaster and the evils of corruption,” she said. Santiago called for the inquiry to include potential overpricing and other unscrupulous acts concerning disaster relief operations.

“The national government owes local and international typhoon relief donors transparency and accountability, and therefore must ensure that the typhoon victims should receive relief by observing internationally recognized standards and best practices,” she said.

Santiago previously filed another resolution seeking to establish protocols and standards for disaster relief operations by local government units in cooperation with nongovernment organizations, responding to reports that relief operations for the victims of the Visayas earthquake last October have been hampered by alleged politicking by local government officials and political aspirants.

“The natural disasters last year and the PDAF scandal exposé are undeniable wake-up calls for the nation to step up government efficiency, transparency, and accountability. Relevant laws such as the Government Procurement Reform Act should be amended based on the national experience with these tragedies,” she said.

Yolanda’s devastation reportedly displaced more than 200,000 families — affecting over one million people — and destroyed more than 500,000 houses in Region VII alone. This prompted the government to set up the bunkhouses made of galvanized iron sheets, plywood and cement, to serve as temporary shelters for families rendered homeless by Yolanda.