DSWD chief: Yolanda bunkhouses now inhabited

Posted at 01/08/2014 7:07 PM

MANILA – Department of Social Welfare and Development Secretary (DSWD) Dinky Soliman announced that some of the bunkhouses built in "Yolanda"-affected towns are now inhabited.

In an interview with DZMM, Soliman said the evacuation of refugees to the temporary houses started on December 22 last year. However, it was discontinued after the houses were reported to be overpriced.

“Meron na. May mga nakatira na. ‘Dun sa Eastern Samar side, may mga bunkhouses nang may tao. ‘Yung sa Palo, nag-turn over kami noong December 22. Inihinto sandali dahil sa mga controversies na lumalabas. Si Mayor Matin Petilla ang sabi lang, hintayin kung ano ang magiging usapan.”

Soliman revealed that if international organizations will not shoulder the electricity and water expenses of each of the houses for one year, DSWD will take over.

“Dito naman sa Tacloban, kausap ko si Maria Lagmay, kanilang inaayos lang na mayroon nang listahan, sinisiguro lang nila na may magbabayad ng elektrisidad at tsaka ng tubig. So aking binigyan ng instructions ang aking mga kasamahan doon na itanong kung puwede ang UNICEF o International Organization for Migration (IOM) magbayad ng isang taon para may siguradong pondo para sa pagbayad ng elektrisidad at tubig. At kung hindi nila mabibigay ‘yon as part of their humanitarian assistance ay sasagutin ng DSWD.”

Soliman also said the DSWD and the Department of Public Works Highways (DPWH) have already addressed the growing gender-sensitivity and security issues of the temporary houses.

“Kung concerns tungkol sa protection issues, kinikilala namin ‘yan kaya mayroon tayong camp coordination manager. Naglalagay tayo ng tao, kasama ‘yung local [na pamahalaan], nagpopondo ‘yung IOM at kami para matulungan ang pagmamaneho ng living conditions doon. At mayroon din tayong nilalagay na women-friendly space at children-friendly space na kung tingin namin ay vulnerable talaga, hindi sila pananatilihin ‘don.”

“In fact ang UNICEF at kami, mayroong dine-develop na isang bahay kung saan ilalagay ang single parents na more vulnerable than may pamilya. Kinikilala naming ‘yon at paiigtingin pa namin ang aming coordination sa protection cluster para mas aware ang ating mga kababayan sa posibilidad ng pang-aabuso. I am happy to report na wala naman. Maraming rumors, pero kapag kinonfirm at pinuntahan namin, wala pa kaming confirmed reports of rape kasi maaga na ‘yung kampanya na protektahan natin ‘yung mga bata at mga babae,” said Soliman.

Meanwhile, in a separate interview with DZMM, DPWH Secretary Regelio Singson responded to the critics of bunkhouses by saying that aside from being temporary shelters, the said houses are better than tents.

“Isipin natin na ito ay temporary shelter. Temporary; hindi ‘yan permanent. Iba ‘yung permanent, iba ‘yung disenyo non. At hindi kami ‘yung gagawa non [kundi] NHA. ‘Eto ay minadali lang naming para ang gusto namin imbis ‘yung mga tao na apektado ay nasa tarpaulin lang o nasa tent, tingin naming mas hamak na safe naman sila at mas komportable sa bunk house,” said Singson.