JV Ejercito eyes new task force to finish Yolanda resettlement


Senator JV Ejercito has proposed the creation of a new task force that will speedily complete the resettlement of typhoon Yolanda survivors as thousands of families remain homeless three years after the disaster.

Ejercito made the proposal Tuesday, the third anniversary of the 2013 supertyphoon that killed 6,340 people in the Visayas, as he learned that only 25,967 housing units were completed and only 15,498 were partially completed out of the 205,128 houses that are supposed to be built for the Yolanda survivors.

“In our computation, the rate of construction of the National Housing Authority for the resettlement project is roughly 12.66%. At this pace, we’ll have to wait for 14 to 15 years for our kababayans in Yolanda-stricken areas to settle in to their new houses. This is very unacceptable,” said Ejercito, the chairman of the Senate Committee on Urban Development, Housing, and Resettlement.

“Apparently, it is not enough to have NEDA at the helm of the rehabilitation and recovery program. We really need somebody who can effectively lead the coordination, monitoring and evaluation of all the projects, programs and activities. This is why I am proposing for the new Task Force Yolanda Rehab to be led by the Office of the President,” the senator said.

The speedy construction of permanent homes were hampered by titling issues, non-availability of lands, and completion of bidding and building processes and requirements, according to the NHA, Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council, and local government officials during Senate inquiries last year.

On Oct. 3, 2016, Ejercito filed Senate Resolution No. 183 to investigate the Yolanda Rehabilitation and Reconstruction Program initiated by the past administration.

“A Senate inquiry will be held as soon as I get back from my preventive suspension. This will be one of my priorities and I expect the responsible agencies and LGUs to report their accomplishments and plans to the Committee, especially on the provision of emergency shelters, permanent homes as well as the delivery of social services in resettlement areas,” Ejercito said.

Aside from the HUDCC, NHA, DSWD and other relevant agencies, Ejercito said he will also invite the Department of Budget Management (DBM), the Commission on Audit (COA) and the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) to enlighten the public on the audit of Yolanda funds and donations and to give a full assessment of the 3-year conduct and implementation of the Resettlement Program under the Yolanda Rehabilitation and Recovery Program.

“The Senate will not rest until every centavo, every nail, plank of wood and iron sheet are accounted for to the people. We will take stock of what we have now so that we can fully determine how to proceed,” vowed the Senator.