Yolanda victims ask Ombudsman’s help
CEBU, Philippines — Around 1,000 household beneficiaries of the Yolanda housing project in Santa Fe town in Bantayan Island are opposing the move of the new mayor to revalidate their qualification to the program.
The homeowners association led by Joemarry Esgana, in a letter dated September 10, 2019, is asking the Office of the Ombudsman-Visayas to look into the actions of Mayor Ithamar Espinosa, saying they are the collateral damage of the mayor’s hatred of the previous administration.
The 1,000 beneficiaries claimed they were qualified as per criteria set by the National Housing Authority (NHA) but Espinosa ordered the revalidation accusing them of being supporters of former mayor Jose Esgana.
“Mayor Ithamar Espinosa now wants NHA Yolanda Housing Beneficiaries to be revalidated and hold all requests for connections of electricity and water. Children are suffering also of this political feud that they had wherein people are getting sick, we are also in a dengue outbreak and other illness due to heat and dehydration,” read the letter signed by Joemarry with attached signatures of the beneficiaries.
Espinosa earlier reported to NHA-7 certain individuals who have been conducting “unofficial meetings and activities” to beneficiaries of the housing project in Barangay Maricaban “which are still subject for revalidation.”
This prompted him to request NHA-7 Regional Manager Gavino Figuracion to intervene and to notify the beneficiaries “to refrain from attending” said meetings so as not to mislead them until the time that the NHA-Program in Santa Fe is “fully endorsed and accepted” by the present local government administration.
In response, NHA Cebu District Office officer-in-charge Constancio Antiniero asked Espinosa to convene the Beneficiary Selection, Awards and Arbitration Committee (BSAAC) and Local Inter-Agency Committee (LIAC) to discuss and resolve the issue related to the beneficiaries.
Antiniero, in a letter dated August 22, 2019 addressed to Espinosa, explained that the listing and validation of beneficiaries were undertaken by the Local Government Unit and already deliberated on and approved by the BSAAC and LIAC.
“Any complaint or issue, or the need for revalidation, shall be subject to discussion among BSAAC and LIAC members,” Antiniero said.
Antiniero added that the NHA is not in a position to issue notice to the beneficiaries to refrain from attending group meetings among themselves.
“In the event that said meetings and activities are proven to be contrary to the household rules and regulations to which every awarded beneficiary agreed and committed to abide by, then the same shall be elevated to the BSAAC and LIAC of which the Municipal Mayor is the chairman,” Antiniero said.
Antiniero assured that the NHA will be available to assist the LGU anytime as maybe requested. (FREEMAN)