MANILA, Philippines – Out of the 200,000 houses needed in the aftermath of 2013’s super typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan), nearly 40% have already been completed but only 13% were occupied as of October this year.
The National Housing Authority (NHA) on Tuesday, November 7, reported that there are already 78,291 completed houses for the victims of the destructive typhoon that hit Visayas in 2013. However, only 26,256 of these completed structures have a family living in it.
NHA Engineer Grace Guevarra explained during Tuesday’s press briefing that the delay was due to the local government units’ (LGU) late submission of their lists of intended beneficiaries.
“The [list of] beneficiaries are submitted to us by the LGU concerned but sometimes it takes some time for them to submit. After giving us the list, we still have to validate on the ground if they (beneficiaries) are still there… We also have to make sure that there’s no double awarding,” said Guevarra.
“It’s the LGUs who are enlisting the beneficiaries. We have already written to the DILG (Department of Interior and Local Government) to compel the LGUs to submit their list but they are really slow,” she added.
NHA said that they are targetting to award 54,180 beneficiaries this year so that the unoccupied homes can finally have residents.
Should they meet this target, the NHA’s target will be down to 119,000 houses. Based on their data, they have already bid out 95% for the construction of the remaining homes.
Guevarra said that they hope to finish the construction of all houses by the 1st or 3rd quarter of 2019 and the distribution by the end of that year. (READ: 4 years after Yolanda, trauma still haunts typhoon victims)
Despite the delays, NHA said that this doesn’t mean additional expenses for the government.
Guevarra explained that the reconstruction plan for the Yolanda-hit areas was only approved almost a year after the destruction on August 1, 2014, and the bidding commenced a month after that, in September that year.
“When we went down to the LGU asking for figures they told us that housing is still not their problem. They were focusing on food, first aid and temporary shelter, not yet permanent housing,” she said.
Another issue that caused the delay, according to Guevarra, was the absence of land titles. Developers cannot find the available lots for their intended site because of the absence of titles that NHA had to reconstitute. (READ: How the Duterte administration is fast-tracking Yolanda recovery)
“The government is not receiving bids without being covered by a legal document,” said Engineer Romuel Alimbuyao who was also present during the news briefing.
“If there were no delays like this, the housing project should have been finished by 2018,” he added.
The Yolanda housing program has a total budget of P59 billion. Some P52 billion have already been obligated to the developers.
NHA officials stressed the units will be given for free following the pronouncement of President Rodrigo Duterte. However, beneficiaries will only own the physical structure because the lot is given at a usufruct arrangement.
This means that they can occupy the land for 50 years without paying a lease. NHA said this was the preferred arrangement to keep the awardees from selling their houses.
On Wednesday, November 8, the country will mark the 4th year since the historical typhoon that claimed thousands of lives. (READ: Malacañang on 4th Yolanda anniversary: Rehab delays unacceptable) – Rappler.com