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Lacson probes 'Yolanda' bunkhouses

MANILA, Philippines - Secretary Panfilo Lacson, Presidential Assistant for Rehabilitation and Recovery,  on Tuesday said an investigation is now underway on the construction of temporary bunkhouses for the thousands of victims of Typhoon Yolanda in Tacloban City following information received that these were built substandard.

Lacson also denied an earlier report that the bunkhouses are being probed for allegedly being overpriced.

“Initial findings indicate probable underspecs not overpricing. We are still validating all the information and compare the same with the documents submitted to us,” Lacson said in his text message to the Star.

Public Works and Highways Secretary Rogelio Singson also earlier denied the alleged overpricing and even vowed to resign if the reports were proven true.

While denying that there was overpricing, Singson, however, admitted there is the possibility that some of the specifications in the construction of the bunkhouses were not followed.

Singson said the bunkhouses are temporary homes good for two years until the permanent shelters are completed. So far, the government has completed 126 of the 222 bunkhouses targeted to be built in the affected municipalities.

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After the designs were configured as suggested by international agencies, one bunkhouse now has 12 rooms or units that will each accommodate a single family with three to four members.

One bunkhouse will now cost P78,587 or P65,715 per square meter for every family.

Singson also denied allegations that there was collusion between supposed favored contractors and politicians, who would purportedly get a 35-percent kickback from the construction of the bunkhouses. Singson said this is unlikely as the government has yet to pay the contractors.

Singson however admitted that there might be a possibility of "underspecification" in the construction of bunkhouses, meaning the contractors could have disregarded the standards set by the DPWH.

Singson said these contractors would not  be paid if they fail to rectify their mistakes and meet the agency's specifications.

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