October 17, 2016
NGO seeks help of anti-red tape czar for Yolanda survivors’ shelter
A non-government organization has sought the help of Department of Finance anti-red tape czar Gil Beltran to help expedite the issuance of an exemption from taxes and duties and waiver of storage fees for 3 shipments of pinewood for phase 2 of its shelter project for typhoon Yolanda (international name: Haiyan) survivors.
In a letter dated October 11 and received by the office of Beltran on Oct. 12, 2016, the Citizens’ Disaster Response Center Foundation, Inc. (CDRC) asked Beltran, also undersecretary of the Department of Finance, to help them with the speedy release of the pinewood shipment for the construction of 300 houses for typhoon Yolanda survivors in Jaro, Leyte.
The construction has been suspended since July as the CDRC could not get the wood released from the Port of Cebu due to non-issuance of tax/duties exemption and waiver of storage fees.
For the past ten months, the CDRC went to 16 various government agencies to process its requests for tax exemptions and waiver of storage fees. Until now, however, the CDRC’s appeals have remained unanswered.
Christie Suyin Ceres G. Jamoralin, CDRC executive director, said, “In line with President Duterte’s order to streamline the delivery of government services, we strongly urge Undersecretary Beltran to end the agony of 300 families or 1,500 individuals still living in makeshift houses nearly three years after Yolanda struck.”
The anti-red tape team was formed in July through Department Order 38-2016 signed by Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III. Beltran was quoted as saying that the goal of the anti-red tape team was to allow public transactions at a “faster pace at least cost.”
“The rainy season has begun and the Yolanda survivors remain at high-risk to disasters,” Jamoralin said. “We appeal to USec Beltran to help us resume the construction of typhoon- and earthquake-resistant houses for Yolanda survivors.”
Jamoralin said it’s been 104 days since the construction of 300 houses has been suspended. When finished, at an average cost of P150,000/house, the 300 houses cost PhP45M, the amount the government can save in providing much needed permanent shelter to typhoon Yolanda survivors. The Shelter Project is funded by Diakonie Katastrophenhilfe. The construction would have ended last August 2016 and the houses turned over to the beneficiaries if the wood had been delivered on time.
During the first phase of the project, the CDRC had already turned over 300 houses to beneficiaries in six barangays of Jaro, Leyte in November last year. Wood donated to construct those houses were exempted from taxes and duties under Presidential Memorandum Order No. 36 in 2014. This was processed through a one-stop-shop (OTS) created by the government for donations to Yolanda survivors.
During the second phase, however, the OTS no longer existed and the CDRC had to process the exemption through the different government departments and agencies concerned. #