Homeless ‘Sendong’ survivors appeal to Duterte

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Tropical Storm Sendong survivors get profiled as housing beneficiaries.

CAGAYAN DE ORO, Nov. 21, 2016 – Five years after typhoon Sendong battered Southern Philippines, thousands, who remain homeless after the storm because of what locals call “government bureaucracy” and a “lack of coordination” among government agencies, called on President Rodrigo Duterte to take action.

“…(W)e are fervently hoping that you can provide closure to the survivors of Tropical Storm Sendong in Cagayan de Oro that should be relocated to safer grounds,” reads an “An Appeal and Position Paper of Cagayan de Oro Typhoon Sendong Survivors to the New President” issued July 4, 2016.

According to the letter, some 12,000 families were rendered homeless by the typhoon but only 7,536 houses have been built by both the government and private sector.

5 years of suffering

“We are currently organized in several homeowners’ associations (HOAs) and we are languishing in this situation for almost 5 years,” reads the letter signed by 13 home owner association presidents in the province.

The letter revealed that since houses built for the survivors were not enough for all the homeless, the remaining survivors, organized into 14 HOAs, availed of the Community Mortgage Program (CMP) managed by the Social Housing Finance Corporation (SHFC) with only 2 having started housing construction to date.

Outlining the various reasons for the government’s delayed action, the HOAs identified the underlying cause to be “the fact that the existing housing policies of SHFC are not focused enough in providing relocation to disaster victims, ISFs, and the urban poor.”

Causes of the delay

According to the document, the “hindering factors” mostly originate from SHFC policy itself. A few of which are:

  • “Voluminous requirements, government bureaucracy and lack of coordination among government agencies in the processing of documents and clearances.”
  • “Unclear and piecemeal guidelines of SHFC.”
  • “Fees and expenses during documentation and processing are too many and were not properly disseminated to the CMP beneficiaries.”
  • “Long processing time before landowners are paid, hence many landowners withdrew from the program.”
  • “Very low appraisal price by SHFC vis-a-vis landowners selling price, requiring equity/counterpart.”
  • “Delay in the conduct of land evaluation by DENR/MGB as to the suitability of the chosen resettlement sites.”

Specifically, the HOAs casked the President to hasten the release of the site development and house construction loans of the homeowners associations so that their respective developers can construct the houses for the 3,191 families/applicants under its Community Mortgage Program (CMP); reform the SHFC’s policies for future housing projects; and empower the mobilizers and orginators of the CMP program to become members of the SHFC Board of Directors.

Typhoon Sendong made landfall over Mindanao on Dec. 16, 2011, damaging nearly 40,000 homes, 11,463 of which were destroyed. Nearly 700,000 people were affected by the storm. (Nirva’ana Ella Delacruz / CBCPNews)

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