PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte said Wednesday he would bring five crosses to crucify officials involved in the resettlement program for victims of Super Typhoon “Yolanda” by March this year, if they again miss their deadline to build more than 200,000 houses for the survivors.
Speaking to typhoon-ravaged victims at New Hope Village in Tacloban City, Duterte once again gave a deadline of March 2017 to finish all housing targets after government agencies failed to meet his December 2016 target completion date.
“January, February, March—by then, you can now transfer [to your new homes,] I’ll return. If it can’t be finished by March, I’ll make you a cross. Like the one carried by Christ. I’ll make [officials] carry them then have them march in the streets. P***, nagpako na,” the President said during a visit to Tacloban City.
Duterte made the call after Cabinet Secretary Leoncio Evasco reported to him that many of the government’s deliverables to typhoon-struck victims have not been met since he visited Tacloban City, the epicenter of “Yolanda,” in November 2016.
At the time, he tasked Presidential Adviser for the Visayas Michael Dino to oversee all recovery efforts and for then housing czar Vice President Leni Robredo “to finish her job on time.”
Duterte then vowed to return by December last year, but many transition shelters have yet to be built.
Evasco took over Robredo’s job as housing czar after she resigned last year following Duterte’s order for her to stop attending Cabinet meetings.
As of December 2016, the National Housing Authority has yet to start 63,334 housing units from the 205,128 housing units intended for typhoon-affected victims. Only 32,919 have been completed while construction is still ongoing for 108,875 housing units.
Duterte vowed to keep his word on erring government officials.
“Just tell me, I can place there five lazy people,” he said. “July is too far away.”
The National Housing Authority reported that there are already 3,236 dwellers in northern relocation sites as of Jan. 13. At least 6,116 units have been awarded to beneficiaries. Overall, the target is to build more than 14,000 permanent houses for “Yolanda” survivors in the city.
During his visit last year, President Duterte ordered government agencies to urgently address bottlenecks in the relocation of families badly hit by the 2013 super typhoon.
The President had expressed disappointment over the slow pace of relocation efforts three years after the monster typhoon’s powerful winds and storm surges decimated the city.
In more than two months, the Army’s engineering brigade has been providing trucking services to beneficiaries of housing projects using military vehicles.
Water needs have been regularly provided by the Department of Public Works and Highways and Leyte Metropolitan Water District pending the completion of medium term and long-term water supply projects.
The Department of Trade and Industry and Department of Labor and Employment have lined up activities to generate livelihood activities of relocated families.
The Leyte II Electric Cooperative has completed power connections to transmission lines near permanent houses.
Duterte ordered Dino to closely monitor housing projects and ensure that the electricity and water supply project is done.
Dino also sent six Ceres Liner buses to Tacloban to help in the relocation of survivors. The buses have been used to shuttle the students and those working at the city center from their homes in the northern resettlement sites to the city for the next six months. This is a stop-gap solution until new public vehicles are established in the relocation sites.
The local government also started a weekly market day in the area to spur economic activities and make available basic goods and commodities.
On Nov. 8, 2013, Super Typhoon “Yolanda” unleashed its wrath in central Philippines, killing around 6,300 people and leaving more than 4.4 million people displaced and homeless. Tacloban City, the regional hub of Eastern Visayas region, was considered as Yolanda’s ground zero.
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