Tacloban City”•A week into the midterm elections, a group of typhoon and war survivors urged the candidates to include them in their agenda.
“The discourses in the election agenda did not seem to involve the Yolanda and Marawi survivors, said Lita Bagunas, storm survivor in Eastern Samar and member-leader of the Community of Yolanda Survivors and Partners.
She made her statement even as Rep. Ariel Casilao appealed to the electorate to vote for the candidates whose platform includes the attainment of rice self-sufficiency and food security to benefit the poor sectors.
He made the statement amid reports of falling farmgate prices of unmilled across the country.
“There are around 2.3 million rice farmers in the country, and eight out of 10 villages are classified as rural, thus the issue of rice self-sufficiency is undeniably an electoral agenda, Casilao said.
Bagunas questioned the sincerity of the candidates after they found that most of them did not bother to include in their election agenda the unfinished rehabilitation from the 2013 Super Typhoon “Yolanda” that leveled the central Philippines and the 2017 siege of Marawi.
“This may be a sign that things are slowing down on the rehabilitation front. Are the Yolanda and Marawi survivors no longer an important issue today? asked Bagunas, leader of Uswag-Este Katarungan.
Despite the report on the recommendation of the Senatorial Committee on Urban Planning, Housing and Resettlement to file charges against the National Housing Authority and developers, CYSP said they were “cautious" that this may yet be another unfulfilled promise.
“We appreciate the announcement that the investigation has been concluded and that the Committee has established that substandard houses were built, and that charges will be filed, said Vincent Basiano of G-Watch Tacloban.
In a statement, Basiano referred to the separate inquiries conducted by Congress that began in 2017, where a whistleblower revealed the alleged practices of using materials other than those specified, among other things.
“As a result, the construction of housing units in the Eastern Samar towns were stopped due to the termination of contracts. Recently, residents noticed that work has again started in these sites, Basiano said.
Fara Diva Cortez of the Freedom from Debt Coalition said they were “more worried that the questions on the units’ structural integrity had been buried under paint.”
“The structures need to be visited and evaluated before the government can claim these units to be ready for occupancy, more so now that Eastern Visayas has been rocked by magnitudes 4 to 6 earthquakes over the past month, Cortez said.
“These earthquakes sent people in panic. We’ve seen cracks develop after the earthquake, should we expect less in the relocation sites?”
Basiano said they were now waiting for the Senate Committee on Urban Planning, Housing and Development “to make good its pronouncements, hoping that this would result in policy reforms and the eventual termination of projects.
“CYSP is wary that construction will be rushed in order to accommodate the government’s plan of finishing all units by Year 2020, Basiano said.
Meanwhile, the group said that the national government should adopt the “people’s plan” of the survivors and include them in their election agenda. With Maricel V. Cruz