Palafox: We saw substandard bunkhouses

Posted at 01/06/14 11:27 PM

MANILA - Rehabilitation chief Panfilo Lacson has asked for an investigation into the bunkhouses being built in typhoon-ravaged areas, according to to urban planner and architect Jun Palafox.

He told ANC Talkback that Lacson made the request last December 13.

"December 13, Friday the 13th, I was with Secretary Ping Lacson. He immediately asked for an investigation," Palafox said. "We saw it. I saw it myself also. So this crisis now has created opportunity to do things better."

Palafox said the temporary shelters being built for Yolanda survivors are substandard.

He compared the bunkhouses here to those built in Indonesia and Sri Lanka, which were devastated by a tsunami in 2004.

"In Aceh, Indonesia and Sri Lanka, I was part of the rehab (team), and the minimum size for a family was 21-22 square meters for the temporary (housing), so that fathers and daughters don't sleep in the same room, or sisters and brothers," he said.

"The more permanent ones are about 42 sqm and higher. Every house would have a kitchen, garden, and incremental approach to housing, the house would grow as the income grows," he added.

Singson willing to resign

Meantime, Public Works and Highways Secretary Rogelio Singson on Monday denied an allegation that bunkhouses for typhoon victims are overpriced.

The turnover of bunkhouses for the survivors had to be pushed back, as adjustments have to be made to the temporary shelters.

Experts from international groups earlier noted that the original size of one unit is too small for a family.

Built partitions have to be stripped down to allow one family to stay in an expanded unit.

Each unit costs about P65,000.

"Now, of course, others will claim 'napakamahal niyan', and so on and so forth," Singson said "But what we are trying to address now is the emergency situation. We feel that they are much safer staying in bunkhouses than staying in tents or in evacuation centers like classrooms."

He denied that the bunkhouses are overpriced.

"It is not overpriced. If it is overpriced, the following day, I will submit my resignation to President Aquino," he said.

He said contractors have not been paid and are willing to forego their overhead and profit margins.

Singson, however, added that contractors must follow the specifications of the DPWH, including the thickness of the galvanized iron sheets that would be used for the roofing.

"If the contractors did not follow the specifications that we gave them, they will not be paid. They will not be paid unless they correct or rectify to meet our standards," he said.

The bunkhouses could serve as the displaced families' temporary shelter for up to two years before they are moved to their permanent homes.

The DSWD and local government units will identify the families who will stay in the bunkhouses while other families are getting other forms of shelter assistance.

The Tacloban City government has identified a 69-hectare land in its northern barangay as the site for the families' permanent settlement.

But that project is unlikely to be completed in the remaining two years of the Aquino administration.

"It cannot be done in two years with the scale of the devastation there," Singson said. - with reports from Willard Cheng, ABS-CBN News; ANC