The NHA again? PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 06 August 2018 13:17

LOOKING IN

BY ROD BALBON

 

Everybody knows how this government agency implemented and supervised the construction of the housing units for victims of calamities. Now we heard again, no less than President Duterte, assuring the latest fire victims in barangays Labuan and Kasanyangan that he has assigned the National Housing Authority (NHA) to take charge in the building of their housing units.

The president must have forgotten how its mid-level officials colluded with the winning contractors in the construction of substandard and unlivable housing units for calamity victims. Somebody should remind him again about this.

Even the Senate Committee on Urban Planning, Housing and Resettlement after its investigation, has uncovered many irregularities that it recommended the filing of charges against officials of NHA as well as contractors whose projects were undertaken  with full of anomalies and not completed on time.

This is what happened in the building of the housing units in barangays Rio Hondo, Sta. Catalina, and Tulungatung.  The housing units were constructed using substandard materials and had no completed important amenities such as toilets, kitchens, electrical and water connections. Many of the housing recipients have sold and left their units simply because they are unlivable.

The irregularities in these multimillion housing projects would not have happened if the NHA had performed their bounden duty of strictly supervising the construction of the units. Despite being given the mobilization funds, which is 15% of the project cost, contractors took advantage of this fund and left their projects unfinished.

We are wondering what takes the House Committee on Housing too long in investigating these irregularities and in recommending the actions to be taken against them. It has been months since the House Committee Chair Albee Benitez together with Congressman Celso Lobregat and Mayor Beng Salazar personally experienced being victims of the constructed substandard wooden bridge in Rio Hondo that broke up and tasted the filthy waters beneath it. Personally, I’m already too fed up with the full House investigation being constantly replayed daily in a local TV station and late into the night.

The NHA is not solely liable to these irregularities. The city government, as well, under Mayor Beng Salazar must also be held liable. The constructions of these housing units were started during the term of her Liberal Party boss, President Pnoy Aquino. She should have saw to it that the projects undertaken were done properly and completed on time. But due her utter negligence, these projects were done irregularly.

With President Duterte’s promise to construct housing units to the fire victims of barangay Labuan, its Barangay Chair Oning Maravilla was extremely happy with such presidential assurance. All the while he thought that the housing units will be constructed by the Army Engineering Battalion that built the Marawi units. The houses built were constructed consistent with their design and material requirements. Now, he is skeptical that these are to be implemented and supervise by the NHA. Many are of the belief that these units will be done haphazardly by crooked constructors in cahoots with its officials.

To stumble twice the same stone is a proverbial disgrace. Since this is situated within the jurisdiction of the city, the city government under Mayor Beng Salazar must now strictly monitor and see to it that the construction of these housing units are in accordance with the design and specifications. The government must not be allowed to waste public funds as what had happened in the construction of the housing units for the intended victims of Typhoon Yolanda in 2013, Typhoon Pablo in 2012, Typhoon Sendong in 2011, and the Zamboanga Siege in 2013.