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Substandard materials used for ‘Yolanda’ victims’ houses

By BEN ROSARIO

BORONGAN, Eastern Samar – A senior administration congressman yesterday deplored multi-million peso irregularities in the implementation of the shelter project for victims of supertyphoon “Yolanda”, noting that the housing units were built using substandard construction materials.

Hundreds of government-funded housing units for Yolanda victims will have to be inspected after contractors who won the heavily-financed shelter project have reportedly tapped unqualified sub-contractors to do their job, Negros Occidental Rep. Alfredo “Albee” Benitez revealed.

The hearing was conducted following a resolution filed by Eastern Samar Rep. Ben Evardone calling for an investigation of the alleged anomalies in the construction of houses for “Yolanda” victims in the towns of Hernani and Belangiga.

Benitez, chairman of the House Committee on Housing and Urban Development, said the anomaly was revealed during a public hearing conducted by the house panel here.

“Our people have been victimized twice over. First, by supertyphoon Yolanda and now by crooked contractors and their cohorts,” lamented Benitez.

Benitez aired strong fears that the same anomalous situation may have also been committed in many other housing and community-building projects for Yolanda victims funded by government.

During a congressional hearing here, Camilo Salazar, a subcontractor, claimed that substandard construction materials were used to construct houses in Balangiga, Eastern Samar.

Benitez disclosed that Salazar said that among the construction materials used were undersized steel bars, cement mix that are cheap and of inferior quality.

It was disclose that roofing materials were also way below the standard.

Salazar admitted that he is a subcontractor tapped by a certain Juanito Tayag to help construct the housing units in Yolanda-stricken areas.

Benitez called on the National Housing Authority should dig deep into the irregularities even as he pointed out that subcontracting is barred under the contract awarded to winning bidders.

“It involves people’s money and the future of Yolanda victims. We need to get to the bottom of all of these,” the irate lawmaker said.

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