Yolanda victims hopeful under Digong’s watch

TACLOBAN CITY—Marive Repulda, 43, looks at the third anniversary commemoration of Super Typhoon “Yolanda” on Nov. 8 with anticipation that all the unreleased aid due to them will be finally delivered under the new administration of President Rodrigo Duterte.

“I have high hopes that the full amount of our housing aid will be released this time. It would be too much already if it won’t happen,” said Repulda, a school teacher in Palo, Leyte.

Repulda, like other public school teachers in the central Philippines, were promised housing aid by the Aquino administration based on a memorandum on Jan. 4, 2014, signed by the Secretary of the Presidential Management Staff, Julia Andrea R. Abad.

RELIGIOUS RITUAL. Japanese tourists, most of them relatives of victims of the Second World War between Japan’s Imperial forces and the United States-led Allied troops, who included Filipinos, offer Friday a religious expression in front of the ‘Yolanda Mother and Son Marker’ at the foot of the 2,200-meter San Juanico Bridge, which links the islands of Samar and Leyte. Mel Caspe
The memo refers to the proposed provision of financial assistance from the Presidential Social Fund to government employees who were affected by the Super Typhoon “Yolanda.”

The financial aid is said to cover education employees hit by the powerful Bohol earthquake in October and Super Typhoon “Yolanda” in November 2013 in Regions IV-A, IV-B, V, VI, VII, VIII, X, and XI.

Those whose houses were totally or heavily damaged were to receive P100,000 each, and those whose houses were partially damaged were to get P30,000 each.

Repulda said she hoped that the second tranche of their housing aid will be released this time.

“It is very frustrating. We were only given half of the amount due to us sometime in October 2015. And we were made to liquidate in full. We’ve waited for over a year already for our second release,” said Repulda, adding that until now her house is not yet fully rehabilitated while she continues to wait for the promised funds. 

Education Undersecrtary Jesus Lorenzo Mateo said in October the release of the funds were being processed.

“We have decided to make a concerted and collective action through this petition letter to demand answers as to the status of the said financial assistance, and if possible, it be given to us the soonest possible time,” said Mer Inisa Ogario, the new regional coordinator of Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT-Eastern Visayas).

Along with Confederation for Unity, Recognition and Advancement of Government Employees-Eastern Visayas (Courage-EV), they launched a signature campaign over the issue.

Ogario said the petition will be given during the possible visit of President Duterte in Tacloban City on Nov. 8, the Yolanda third anniversary, through Social Welfare Secretary Judy Taguiwalo.

Meanwhile, storm survivors in Eastern Samar have expressed their anger, saying that for three years, there was no solution in sight for many of them in the high-risk zones.

“Three years in waiting, three years of life in danger,” said Lita Bagunas of Uswag Este-Katarungan, a provincial federation of farmers, fisherfolks, women and informal settlers associations in Eastern Samar.

“The slow and uncertain solution to shelter reconstruction of survivors who are in danger zones is a clear manifestation of a government’s disaster response that is unorganized and in disarray. This is unnecessarily making life more difficult and burdensome for survivors,” she said in a statement.

According to Bagunas, residents from the municipalities of Lawaan, Balangiga, Giporlos, Gen. MacArthur, Hernani, Llorente, and Maydolong tagged as living in the “high-risk zones” “have held dialogues with their respective municipalities in the hope of establishing the status of their relocation.”

On Thursday, Vice President Leni Robredo, chairwoman of the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council, signed a tripartite deal with the Bureau of Internal Revenue and the National Housing Authority to speed up the process of building more permanent houses for survivors of Super Typhoon “Yolanda.”

The agreement seeks to expedite the issuance of certificates of tax exemption for transfers of raw land to the NHA for socialized housing.

Topics: Marive Repulda , Super Typhoon “Yolanda” , Yolanda anniversary , Aid , President Rodrigo Duterte administration , Typhoon Yolanda victims , Tacloban City

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