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NHA to rebid contract for Yolanda housing projects in Eastern Samar

The National Housing Authority (NHA) will rebid the resettlement project contract worth P800 million awarded to JC Tayag, the main contractor of the Yolanda housing projects in Eastern Samar.

NHA Assistant General Manager Froilan Kampitan disclosed this during a joint congressional hearing of the House Committee on Housing and Urban Development and House Committee on Good Government and Public Accountability.

Kampitan said it will issue a letter of contract termination to JC Tayag Builders following the revelation of substandard materials used in the construction of over 2,000 housing units.

Kampitan said the NHA will rebid the contract to ensure that the project implementation would adhere to standards and be expedited thoroughly.

“We are trying to locate some properties already that are available (under the contract of JC Tayag),” Kampitan said.

Tayag, for his part, maintained his denial of using substandard materials in the housing units, saying that it was a possible “sabotage” against him.

A certain Camilo Salazar alleged in a previous congressional hearing that Tayag used eight-millimeter steel rods in the house construction in Balangiga, Eastern Samar instead of the required specification of 10 millimeters.

This allegation was further verified by a joint inspection team dispatched by the NHA and Department of Public Works and Highways.

The inspection team uncovered that the size of the reinforcing steel bars averaged at eight millimeters. The contractor also used undersized bars of 12 millimeters, which is below the requirement of 16 millimeters.

Meanwhile, the 70 percent cut in the budget of the NHA from P15.3 billion this year to P4.4 billion in 2018 is an “injustice”, Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon said Tuesday.

Drilon made this remark during the interpellation of the budget of the housing sector emphasizing the huge budget cut is the “wrong policy thrust” since it is crucial in addressing “the poorest sector of our society.”

Senator Joseph Victor Ejercito, Chair of the Senate Committee on Urban Planning, Housing, and Resettlement, cited the agency’s alleged low absorptive capacity as a reason for the decrease as proposed by the Department of Budget and Management in the 2018 national budget.

However, Drilon disagreed with the DBM explaining that the absorptive capacity of the NHA is being blamed for the refusal by the economic managers to provide sufficient budget for the housing sector.

“We should not let our people suffer from these alleged inefficiencies of a bureaucracy, which is even open to question,” Drilon said.

“Social problems will just continue to worsen if we continue to commit criminal neglect in our treatment of the housing sector,” he added.

Contrary to claims that the agency has a low absorptive capacity, Ejercito pointed out that the NHA has obligated 85 percent of its funds in 2016.

Drilon, meanwhile, asked both the committee and chamber to restore the proposed budget of the housing sector for next year to its current level especially since housing backlog is expected to reach six million by 2022.

Ejercito, earlier said that the backlog is currently at 1.2 million.

“With that kind of backlog, why are we not providing enough resources to our housing sector?” Drilon said.

He proposed to use the “excess fats” in the proposed P3.77 trillion 2018 national budget to address the current housing backlog.

Ejercito, meanwhile, proposed for a special provision that would enable NHA’s fund utilization to be extended for two more years to give NHA elbow room of three years to fully use their funds.

“I believe this would be more fair and practical for the NHA since the process in constructing housing units usually takes too long. This bureaucratic process is the reason why NHA’s funds cannot be disbursed within one year,” Ejercito said. PNA

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