PNoy uses resettlement for ‘Sendong’ victims in hitting predecessor

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (MindaNews/27 April)—President Benigno Simeon S. Aquino III again made a swipe at his predecessor by highlighting the “efficient” delivery of housing units for survivors of the floods brought by storm Sendong in December last year.

In turnover rites today at the Calaanan Permanent Resettlement Site Phase III, in barangay Canito-an,  Aquino stressed that his administration fulfilled the promise to provide new homes for the victims.

“Sa loob ng apat na buwan, ang salitang binitiwan natin ay ganap nang mga tahanan,” (In four months time, our promise became homes) he said.

He said that in the past the government would wait for a deluge to happen before acting, adding the people had to suffer long lines in getting relief goods.

“Times are different now. It’s no longer enough to pose for pictures, and then say, okay, bye, see you next time,” he added in Filipino.

The President said the effeciency of government’s response would not have been possible without the support of the people.

Aquino said that unlike before, every “field office ng DSWD (Department of Social Welfare and Development) meron tayong standby funds na aabot ng P500 million” as emergency funds for local governments in the event of calamities.

“Pinapatunayan po natin na pagsinabi nating walang iwanan, talagang wala pong iwanan,” (We have proved that when we say we’ll do it together, we’ll do it together) he said.

In her project briefing during the turnover program, DSWD Secretary Corazon Soliman announced that in just four months, 1,516 housing units in different permanent relocation sites in the city are ready for occupancy.

The DSWD spearheaded the funding of the building of the housing units while the city government and the Department of Public Works and Highways developed the civil works of the permanent relocations sites.

According to DSWD, each quadruplex housing unit—measuring 40 square meters—costs about P70,000. The National Housing Authority contributed P40,000 for each unit with the help of Habitat for Humanity.

She said the targetted 8,000 housing units for the housing grantees will be finished by August, this year.

Aside from the housing units, Soliman said they will also be giving “starter kits” to all relocation beneficiary-families, livelihood assistance worth P975,000, which will be coursed through their community organizations, and free livelihood training courses through the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority.

“This will facilitate faster disaster response and action from the government,” Aquino explained.

The President called on the public to cooperate, especially those people still living in danger areas.

“Our country is a typhoon frequented spot, let us not wait for the disaster to strike before we act,” he said.

“We have been pushing reforms to strengthen our readiness to calamity and minimize its effects,” he added.

The Department of Science and Technology (DOST) is now embarking on a Nationwide Operational Assessment Hazards dubbed Project Noah, a flood warning system that will install some 600 automated rain gauges and 400 water river census in all major rivers systems in the country.

Aquino further appealed to the public to help in guarding this equipment. (Cong Corrales with a report from H. Marcos C. Mordeno/MindaNews)