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Poor NHA record in building ‘Yolanda’ permanent housing units

OCCUPIED Survivors of Supertyphoon “Yolanda” have started to occupy units in the National
Housing Authority project in Barangay May in northern Cebu’s Daanbantayan town.
—JUNJIE MENDOZA/CEBU DAILY NEWS

(First of two parts)

TACLOBAN CITY — The little ramshackle hut in Barangay 88, San Jose District, here has been home to Cristine Novilla since her family’s house was destroyed four years ago by the strongest typhoon to hit land.

The hut was built with materials gathered by her father, Sotico, 50, and common-law husband, Dennis Flores, 29, from storm debris after Supertyphoon “Yolanda” (international name: Haiyan) struck on Nov. 8, 2013.

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“It has been four years now since Yolanda hit our village and I’m going to deliver my first  this month and, I hope, after my delivery, we’ll be staying in a new house and not here,” said Novilla, who was eight months’ pregnant with her first child during the Inquirer interview.

Last week, the 27-year-old woman gave birth.

“We want to move out of here. For one, we don’t own the lot. Second, we’ve been promised that we will have our house by the government after Yolanda,” Novilla said.

She hopes her family can finally move to a permanent house because she doesn’t want to raise her child in a hut.

Novilla’s family is among at least 4,000 families in Tacloban City still waiting for promised houses four years after Yolanda.

Good in implementation

That looks a lot considering the time span, but actually Tacloban has been good in the implementation of permanent resettlement sites for the typhoon survivors.

According to information in the Oct. 30 Yolanda permanent housing program status accomplishment report of the National Housing Authority (NHA), 10,883 housing units are classified ready for occupancy (RFO) out of the 14,443 target for Tacloban. Of the RFOs, 10,073 have been occupied.

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Construction of 3,594 units is going on, the report said.

While survivors’ prospect of being relocated is bright in Tacloban, the situation is deplorable in other provinces in the Visayas that have also been devastated by Yolanda.

In northern Cebu, the NHA sought to build 22,423 housing units in Bogo City and the mainland towns of Daanbantayan and Medellin, San Remegio, Bantayan, Santa Fe  and Madredejos — all on Bantayan Island — and San Francisco, Poro, Tudela and Pilar, all on Camotes Island.

But according to the NHA status report, only 188 units are considered RFOs and 108 of these are occupied—not even 10 percent of the target.

No utilities

While 19,604 units have been bid out, 2,143 units are in various stages of development and 1,648 have been completed but cannot be occupied because of the absence of utilities.

Tacloban, being ground zero for the supertyphoon, was given special attention, said Presidential Assistant Wendel Avisado, who was designated to oversee and supervise the Yolanda Rehabilitation Project on Nov. 10, 2016.

Resettlement sites were readily available in the city and requirements for implementation of the project were readily available, he said.

“Each LGU (local government unit) has its own peculiarities and that contribute greatly, among other reasons, to the delay of project implementation,” he said.

In Western Visayas, out of 90,148 houses planned to be built in Aklan, Antique, Capiz and Iloilo, only 24,926 units have been constructed and only 9,896 have been occupied.

In bad shape is Iloilo, where only 11,442 units of the 43,987 target have been built, or a difference of 32,545. Only less than half, or 4,506 of finished  units have been occupied.

The same elsewhere

The same is true in other provinces where NHA has barely hit 50 percent of its target: Aklan, 2,142 units built out of the 15,948 target; Antique, 2,590 out of 18,177; and Capiz, 8,752 out of 12,036.

It is also the same in Negros Occidental: 11,833 out of 27,055, but only 4,506 have been occupied.

In Eastern Visayas, only Tacloban has a better implementation rate.

At least 16,199 units have been planned for the rest of Leyte province but only 3,896 units are considered RFOs. Of the number, only 1,143 units have been occupied.

In Eastern Samar, only 787 units are considered RFO with 536 units occupied out of the 7,573 target.

In Samar, the target is 8,900 units but only 1,008 are RFO. Not a single unit has been occupied. At least 1,090 units have been completed but cannot be occupied because of the absence of utilities.

In Biliran, 649 RFO units are unoccupied. The NHA has set a target of 8,905 units for the island.

The NHA, however, has not started construction of any of its target 130 units in Southern Leyte, although these have been bid out.

Mayor Edgar Boco of Hernani town in Eastern Samar — where the NHA has not finished a single unit out of its target of 989 spread in three resettlement sites — has asked that the construction be hastened.

“We’ve been asking the NHA to speed up the construction of these houses but it appears that they like to play cat-and-mouse with us. We cannot find them,” Boco said.

“All I’m asking is for the NHA to finish the project. The residents are miserable,” he added.

(To be continued)

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