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Duterte urged to release wood shipment for ‘Yolanda’ shelters

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President Rodrigo Roa Duterte. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO/JOAN BONDOC

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO/JOAN BONDOC

A nongovernment organization advocating community-based disaster response has called on President Rodrigo Duterte to order the release of wood shipment held in a Cebu port since December 2015 for the construction of shelters for the victims of Supertyphoon “Yolanda” (Haiyan) in 2013.

In a letter to Duterte, the Citizens’ Disaster Response Center Foundation, Inc. (CDRC) sought for an exemption from taxes and duties and storage fees for the shipment of pinewood for phase 2 of its ongoing project with Germany’s DiakonieKatastrophenhilfe (DKH).

CDRC said the project’s second phase would provide 303 typhoon-resistant houses in barangays (villages) San Roque, Buenavista and Macanip in Jaro, Leyte, while the first phase had already turned over 297 houses to beneficiaries in 6 barangays in November last year.

The NGO said they were granted tax and duties exemption for the phase 1 of the project under Presidential Memorandum Order No. 36 in 2014 through a one-stop-shop (OTS) created by the government for donations for Yolanda survivors.

“The processing took only one day. So for the Phase 2 of the project, we also requested for an exemption  granted in 2014 for the pinewood used in Phase 1. However, this time there is no OTS anymore and so we had to process the exemption through the different government departments and agencies concerned,” CDRC executive director Christie Jamoralin said in the letter.

“For the Phase 2 of the project, DKH sent 3 shipments of pinewood to the Port of Cebu en route to Ormoc City then Jaro, Leyte: 1st shipment arrived on Dec. 9, 2015, 2nd shipment arrived on February 3, 2016 and the 3rd shipment arrived on May 18,2016,” she added.

CDRC said it started processing the request for exemption for the first shipment through the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) in the previous administration last Dec. 14, 2015, but has not received a response since.

“We waited for more than six months for the previous government to grant the tax exemption and waiver of storage fees but to no avail. Even several follow up from the Embassy of Germany, through the request of our donors, did not produce positive results… Meanwhile, the houses being constructed are awaiting completion. Rainy days have officially started and Typhoon Yolanda survivor beneficiaries of the project still have no permanent homes to protect them,” Jamoralin said.

“Mr. President, we would now like to request you for an exemption from taxes and duties for the shipment of pinewood for the shelter project as well as for a waiver in the storage fees at the Port of Cebu so that the shipment can be released soon. It is our fervent hope and prayer that with your policy of delivering quick service to those in need these can be granted,” she added.

The group had also written letters to former President Benigno Aquino III, former and incumbent DSWD secretaries Corazon “Dinky” Soliman and Judy Taguiwalo, and Cabinet Secretary Leoncio Evasco Jr., among others. IDL

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Duterte slams Roxas: Where are billions of ‘Yolanda’ funds?

God was away when ‘Yolanda’ flattened Tacloban—Duterte

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