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Duterte to check on Yolanda housing in 1 month, announces P1B aid to families

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Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko

President Rodrigo Duterte. AP File Photo

TACLOBAN CITY, Leyte — President Rodrigo Duterte emphasized on Tuesday his determination to see victims of Supertyphoon “Yolanda” transferred to permanent shelters soon, firing off orders to the presidential adviser for the Visayas and Vice President Leni Robredo to help in the effort, and vowing to check on progress in a month.

Mr. Duterte also announced that families who have not received housing assistance would get P5,000 each and P3,000 in livelihood assistance from his government immediately.

Social Welfare Secretary Judy Taguiwalo, who was in Tacloban with the President, said the families who would get the P5,000 would be those who were left out during the distribution of the emergency shelter assistance (ESA).

Taguiwalo said President Duterte would have to release at least P1 billion for the purpose.

Duterte pointed out it has been three years since the onslaught of the strongest typhoon to hit land.

President Duterte directed Presidential Adviser for the Visayas, Michael Dino, to use his office as a coordinating body of the agencies tasked to provide permanent shelters and livelihood to those displaced by Yolanda.

Duterte vowed to return to Tacloban a month later to check on the progress.

“Kindly ask everybody to cooperate. Do not delay government project,” Mr. Duterte said.

President Duterte arrived in Tacloban, considered ground zero of Yolanda, at 3:19 p.m. and immediately proceeded to the mass grave site in Barangay Basper where he offered a wreath to the 2,200 people who were buried there.

In his speech, Mr. Duterte didn’t mince words in his disappointment with how the national government provided assistance to the survivors of Yolanda.

He pointed out the delay in the transfer of displaced families to permanent shelters as well as the lack of water in relocation sites and livelihood assistance to the survivors.

“IIlang tao palang ang nakatira sa mga permanent houses (Relatively few people have been living in permanent houses). I am not satisfied. As a matter of fact, it is BS to me. Three years, wala pang nakatira lahat (Three years on and nearly everybody has not been settled in permanent housing),”the President said during his speech.

Mayor Cristina Romualdez said that out of the more than 14,400 people who should be relocated to their new permanent houses, only 2,500 of them have been resettled.

“I am thankful to the President. Hopefully, next year’s anniversary, all of these families are already resettled to their permanent houses,” Romualdez said, reacting to the statement of the President.

The President also asked Vice President Leni Robredo to help in the construction effort for the families who lost their homes.

Robredo, who heads the Housing Urban Development and Coordinating Council (HUDCC), was among the guests in the commemoration ceremony. She joined on stage former senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. whom she defeated in a tight vice presidential race.

But the two chose to ignore each other.

The construction of the houses for families who lost their houses is being undertaken by the National Housing Authority (NHA).

The NHA is tasked to construct 14,433 houses at the 11 resettlement sites in the city, all located in the northern part.

Bad weather and processing of the required documents were among the reasons cited by the NHA for the delay in the construction of the houses.

Mr. Duterte had finished his speech when he went back to the podium to announce that families who have not received housing assistance would get P5,000 each and P3,000 in livelihood assistance from his government immediately.

Social Welfare Secretary Judy Taguiwalo, who was among the Cabinet members who joined the President in his visit to this city, said the families who would get the P5,000 would be those who were left out during the distribution of the emergency shelter assistance (ESA).

“Hopefully, once the fund is downloaded to us from the Office of the President, we will start to give the assistance,”Taguiwalo said.

She said that hopefully, within the first three months of 2017, they could start to distribute the assistance.

Taguiwalo said at least P1 billion must be released by the government for this purpose.

During the Yolanda commemorative anniversary held at the Tacloban Convention Center, one of the guests was the acting US Ambassador to the Philippines, Michael Klecheski.

Klecheski said that they were “proud”that his country was able to help Tacloban and other areas hit by Yolanda in their rebuilding effort.

He also maintained that the US-Philippines relations remain strong despite the criticisms made by Mr. Duterte against US President Barack Obama.

“The US is extremely committed to continuing very, very strong relations from our perspective and in the interests of both countries,”the American envoy said.  SFM

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