Legarda: NHA, contractors should be accountable for unsafe and substandard housing

May 22, 2018

Senator Loren Legarda said that given the sufficient budgetary support from the national government, all those involved in the government housing programs have to be accountable for the substandard and delayed implementation of housing projects in different calamity-hit areas and relocation sites.

Legarda made the statement during the Senate hearing conducted by the Committee on Urban Planning, Housing and Resettlement yesterday on the alleged irregularities on resettlement and relocation programs undertaken by the government for disaster-affected areas.

“These housing programs are being funded by taxpayers’ money, allocated through GAA. So why does this regularly happen? Somebody has to be liable for the irresponsible use of inferior, substandard and even inappropriate construction materials,” said Legarda.

The Senator underscored the need for the judicious use of funds allocated for housing programs to strengthen the accountability of the government and provide the people with the assistance that they deserve.

“All these issues are not new to us, or to the agency, and they need to be addressed because this is an example of wasting the people’s money.  Wastage and inefficiency in government programs undermine the confidence of the people in the institution,” Legarda emphasized.

Legarda also questioned the National Housing Authority (NHA) for building housing units in areas where there are no basic utilities.

“Why is the National Housing Authority building communities and relocation sites where there’s no electricity and no access to water? Why use the taxpayers’ money and government funds for land that is far-flung, and where you don’t provide basic utilities?” asked Legarda.

Meanwhile, Legarda directed NHA to submit a report per housing program or project, which contains the name of the contractor, cost, updated balance, and status of the housing program. The Senator also requested for the attendance of the LGU officials where there are identified relocation sites, representatives of the calamity victims, the contractors of every project being complained about, concerned regional and field engineers of the NHA to be present in the next hearing scheduled on 28 May 2018, Monday.

“We cannot just blame the contractors here, because NHA as mandated by law to engage in low-cost housing production, should also be investigated on how they perform their duties and, if there is sufficient factual basis, they should be held accountable.  If NHA is saying that the funds were not enough for the right type of housing to accommodate all the victims, then its officials should have been more straightforward in asking Congress for more budgetary support.  Otherwise, the better thing to do is  work within the budget, without necessarily putting the quality, and ultimately the life and safety of the people, at risk,” Legarda concluded.