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NHA execs availed of ‘Yolanda’ housing

Elmer Recuerdo

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TACLOBAN CITY — A large group of “Yolanda” housing advocates and victims of the super-typhoon is asking the government to form an independent body to look into the alleged irregularities in the awarding of houses to the beneficiaries.

The call was made amid reports that many officials of the local office of National Housing Authority (NHA) were among those who received housing units intended for the victims.

Some officials were even reported to have received choice model units, with some getting multiple units for themselves, their families and close associates.

The reports of such irregularities are coming out as the region is preparing for the commemoration of the sixth anniversary of super-typhoon “Yolanda,” the strongest typhoon that hit a landmass in recent history.

President Rodrigo Duterte is expected to lead the guests on the 8 November program.

“This runs contrary to the spirit of the government’s ‘Yolanda’ housing program, which is to provide houses to the poor who are living in coastal areas and are exposed to dangers due to the climate crisis,” said Fara Diva Gamalo, a leader of the Coalition of Yolanda Survivors and Partners, a group of 10 non-government and 163 community organizations.

She said the Office of the Ombudsman and the Civil Service Commission should look into the allegations of irregularity as it undermines a multi-billion program of the government.

“Those working in the government should be aboveboard and should not use their office and authority for any undue advantage over other people,” she said.

Not in master list

Tacloban City Mayor Alfred Romualdez, in a press conference marking his 100 days in office last month, said 70 percent of those occupying the units at the NHA-constructed relocation sites were not in his original master list. He said this is now being investigated by the city government.

Records from the Tacloban City Housing Office show that as of 5 September, the NHA regional office has already raffled off and awarded 11,136 units to families from 37 coastal barangays in the city who are living on the danger zones. The city government has listed and endorsed to NHA 14,433 families living in these areas to be included in the housing program.

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