Philippine Daily Inquirer – Santiago, Marcos want probe into overpriced bunkhouses

By Maila Ager | Philippine Daily Inquirer

InquirerMANILA, Philippines — Two senators on Thursday filed separate resolutions calling for a Senate investigation into allegations that bunkhouses being built for people left homeless by Supertyphoon “Yolanda” were overpriced and substandard.

In filing Senate Resolution No. 436, Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago condemned “the unscrupulous acts of entities” involved in the alleged overpricing of the bunkhouses.

“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 in a statement.

Santiago also wants an inquiry into the 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.

The senator previously filed another resolution, seeking to establish protocols and standards for disaster relief operations by local government units in cooperation with nongovernment organizations.

The resolution was prompted by media 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,” she said.

PDAF is Priority Development Assistance Fund also known as “pork barrel” funds.

“Relevant laws such as the Government Procurement Reform Act should be amended based on the national experience with these tragedies,” Santiago added.

Senator Ferdinand “Bong-Bong” Marcos Jr. also filed Senate Resolution 439, directing the Senate committee on public works to investigate the reported overpricing and substandard bunkhouses.

Marcos said the inquiry was meant 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,” he said in a separate statement.

The construction of the temporary shelters, Marcos said, was part of the government’s efforts to help typhoon survivors.

But he noted that even the world-renowned architect and urban planner, Felino Palafox, Jr., had questioned the quality of the bunkhouses, saying they were undersized and substandard based on international criteria in the construction of temporary shelters and are, therefore, unfit for human habitation.

Marcos said he is set to visit Leyte next week to see for himself the progress of the rehabilitation efforts for “Yolanda” survivors and inspect the controversial bunkhouse.

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