Pablo year 5: housing and Aquino’s unfulfilled promise

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MATI CITY, Philippines— It’s been five years,  when Super Typhoon Pablo (International name Bhopa) hit the Davao Oriental, but until now, the survivors struggle to stay a normal life in a house built from a broken promise.

Pablo made landfall in Mindanao and was considered one of the worst typhoons to hit the island.

The provinces of Davao Oriental and Compostela Valley were mostly affected.  It left 1,067 dead and more than 800 missing.   After Typhoon Pablo, the landscape of Barangay Andap in New Bataan, Compostela Valley was transformed from what used to be a vibrant agricultural community with a thriving eco-tourism into a desolate town.

The Aquino government announced the multi-billion housing program undertaken by the National Housing Authority (NHA) but the much-publicized housing projects turned ghost, as corruption highlights the project. It is now a  picture of Aquino’s  failure in delivering housing units for the survivors.

Rows of unoccupied houses in San Pablo, Caraga town.-NEWSLINE.PH photo

Most if not all housing units are defective, no partitions and  no comfort rooms.

Worse, in all NHA housing projects, water facility is wanting, residents struggle to avail power connections.

Many housing units in barangay Carmen,, Boston Davao Oriental collapsed even before the units were completed.

Dozens of NHA units in brgy. Carmen, Boston, Davao Oriental collapsed, contractors abandoned the project while Pablo survivors await their houses.-photo by NEWSLINE.PH

No less than then  President Benigno Aquino and then Interior Secretary Mar Roxas promised the  survivors better relocation sites with good houses equipped with light and water but everything seem forgotten, after five years, Pablo survivors struggle to survive.

In the five housing sites developed by Veritzontal Builders, a contractor from Bicol, only 90 families live in the 2,097 housing units and every occupant complain of sub-standard units.

The contractor was awarded four housing sites located in Kinablangan (689 units); Baculin (885 units); San Pedro, Caraga (237 units); and  Carmen, Boston (286 units).

Aida Udtohan of Caraga said they were promised a good house with water supply and power, but none of the above came good.

Only five families occupy in the 237 housing units in the village of San Pedro in Caraga town, Davao Oriental. There is no water, no power and houses not completed.-NEWSLINE.PH photo

Sub-standard housing units is even admitted by the contractors own staff on field who revealed, the owner of the company only visited the projects sites twice since 2013.

The municipal government of Boston wanted to sit down with the developer and the NHA Davao region manager but they couldn’t even grant him the courtesy for a table discussion to talk about the housing problem.

Worse, they never allowed the provincial government to visit the site while the housing units were under construction, they didn’t even know that the contractor abandoned the project long time ago.

The only water well in Kidawa, NHA housing project in ComVal. residents have to walk to avail potable water for every family,-NEWSLINE.PH photo

In Kidawa, Laak, ComVal, the residents still await the promised water supply, residents fetch water away from their houses while others prefer to use the water well in washing their clothes and dishes.

In ComVal and Davao Oriental housing projects, water, power, incomplete houses and abandonment of housing projects  hounds the Pablo survivors.

Would-be occupants who refused to be identified for fear of reprisal from contractors suspect-corruption ate up the budget for their houses.

They are hoping, one day, under the leadership of President Rodrigo Duterte, their units will be equipped with the basic facility they need in order to live in a house which the government once called- a decent house for Pablo survivors.-Editha Z. Caduaya/

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