Plunder raps eyed vs execs in Yolanda housing mess Featured

Plunder raps eyed vs execs in Yolanda housing mess

Leyte Rep. Vicente Veloso told reporters he and his colleagues are gathering evidence for the criminal cases to be filed against the NHA officials and contractors. File
MANILA, Philippines — Plunder charges await officials of the National Housing Authority (NHA) and contractors over the alleged use of substandard materials to build houses for victims of Super Typhoon Yolanda.

Leyte Rep. Vicente Veloso told reporters he and his colleagues are gathering evidence for the criminal cases to be filed against the NHA officials and contractors.

“At the very least, they could be guilty of estafa and negligence. But we are studying possible plunder charges because the amount of taxpayers’ money involved is enormous,” Veloso said.

Last weekend, Veloso joined members of the House committee on housing and urban development chaired by Negros Occidental Rep. Alfredo Benitez in looking into the complaints of poor-quality houses for Yolanda victims.

“Piggery houses in Leyte are better than the housing units for typhoon victims we saw in Eastern Samar and in my province,” Veloso said.

He lamented that the NHA has not built a single housing unit for Yolanda victims in his district.

Nearly four years after the typhoon, Benitez said only 67,000 housing units have been built in Eastern Visayas out of the 205,000 targeted for around a million people displaced by the typhoon.

“Of the 67,000...built, only 23,000 were occupied. Many of the units are substandard... Typhoon victims refuse to accept them,” he said.

Eastern Samar Rep. Ben Evardone, who authored the resolution calling for a congressional inquiry, said some NHA officials and contractors could be taking advantage of the victims.

“They (victims) tell us they survived the fury of Yolanda. But they may not survive the poor quality of the houses the NHA has built for them,” Evardone said.

He said the task of building houses for Yolanda victims should be transferred to local government units, noting that they are more concerned about the welfare of their constituents.

Another Leyte lawmaker, Yedda Romualdez, said that with the irregularities in Yolanda housing projects, “it seems that we are victimized once again by another typhoon.”

“We appeal to President Duterte to hold accountable the parties involved in the anomalies…I know the President is a no-nonsense action man and very much determined to address corruption,” Romualdez said.

The House committee on housing and urban development plans to expand its inquiry and involve the committee on good government and public accountability.

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