Philippine Daily Inquirer – Senate to probe alleged graft in building of ‘substandard’ bunkhouses

By TJ A. Burgonio | Philippine Daily Inquirer

InquirerMANILA, Philippines — The Senate is opening yet another inquiry into the aftermath of Super Typhoon “Yolanda’’ (Haiyan) this week, this time focusing on the alleged profiteering from the construction of “substandard” bunkhouses for survivors in eastern Visayas.

The committee on public works has invited rehabilitation czar Panfilo Lacson to shed light on his earlier statement about a possible collusion between contractors and a local politician to profit from the construction of bunkhouses.
Lacson, a former senator and national police chief, had tapped the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group to investigate reports that some were pocketing 30 to 35-percent commissions.

“I believe Secretary 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,’’ said Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr., chair of the public works committee.

The first hearing is set for Wednesday.

Yolanda, packing sustained winds of 235 kilometers per hour and gusting up to 275 kph, swirled through Eastern Visayas on Nov. 8, leveling mostly seaside villages and leaving more than 6,000 dead. More remains are being dug up to date.
The National Economic Development Authority has drawn up a P361-billion Reconstruction Assistance on Yolanda (RAY) plan for areas ravaged by the super typhoon.

The committee also invited architect and urban planner Felino Palafox Jr., who observed that the bunkhouses were “substandard and undersized,’’ hence, unfit for habitation, as well as Public Works Secretary Rogelio Singson, who denied charges the bunkhouses were overpriced and substandard.

On the heels of the reports of anomalies, Marcos filed a resolution seeking an inquiry that would institute correct measures, and ensure the safety of Yolanda survivors.

“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.

The congressional oversight committee on the law creating the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) has conducted two hearings on the government handling of the rescue and relief for Yolanda survivors, specifically in Tacloban City.

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