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Land tenure issues hamper Tacloban rehabilitation

Rainier Allan Ronda - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - Rebuilding is going slow in Tacloban City because of land tenure issues faced by many survivors of Super Typhoon Yolanda, which destroyed thousands of houses in the city on Nov. 8 last year.

Plan International Philippines’ Building Back Better in Tacloban City Post-Yolanda Rehabilitation Program aims to build 300 model houses in Barangay 62 and Barangay 62-A in Sagkahan district near Tacloban City Astrodome.

But according to Butch Rebueno, manager for the rehabilitation program, Plan International Philippines encountered land tenure issues among the target beneficiaries of the model houses, which the organization had hoped to build earlier in February.

He explained that Plan International Philippines cannot release the funding for the construction of model homes to beneficiaries due to failure to present proof of ownership or legal tenancy of the land where their homes stood.

“Many of them are informal settlers,” Rebueno added.

To solve the problem, field officers of Plan International Philippines helped beneficiaries look for the owners of the lots in the two barangays and negotiated the lease for the beneficiaries.

Rebueno said that Plan International Philippines has included a budget of P300 to P500 for the monthly rental of each lot for a beneficiary for two years to formalize the tenancy of the land prior to starting construction of the model homes.

“If we can get a low rate of P300, we hope to stretch the budget to a period of three years.” After that, the beneficiary is expected to take over the payment of the monthly rent, Rebueno added.

Plan International Philippines is among the first organizations on the ground that mobilized relief efforts in the aftermath of Yolanda last year. The organization continues its support to typhoon survivors through recovery and rehabilitation assistance aimed at helping communities build back better and safer houses as a response to future calamities and challenges.

 The organization’s efforts also include a repair project involving 889 damaged homes. The group used disaster-resilient construction techniques and a process that ensures members of the community are engaged as partners in the rehabilitation.

Social Welfare Secretary Corazon Soliman maintained that the Department of Social Welfare and Development is also continuously pursuing its assigned part in the rehabilitation as part of the overall government recovery effort.

“The Aquino administration developed the rehabilitation plan based on the needs and projects identified by the local government units. The National Housing Authority is building 10,000 houses in Leyte and Samar. They will be ready for turnover to the 800 residents as their permanent shelter within this month,” Soliman said.

“Farmers are entering their second harvest. A number of boats have been provided by the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources. Schools and temporary learning centers and district hospitals are being rebuilt. Public markets are being reconstructed. These are the investments of the Aquino administration in addition to existing socio-protection programs,” she added.

Soliman also expressed doubts on the report of women’s group Gabriela that there is still widespread hunger and rampant prostitution in Tacloban City due to the government’s failure to provide sufficient relief and recovery assistance to typhoon survivors.

“We have a very active interagency monitoring team composed of US government agencies and international partner-organizations that monitor these cases and we have not received reports recently,” she maintained.

8 of 15 ships washed ashore removed

A year after Yolanda struck, eight of the 15 vessels washed ashore by the high waves generated by Yolanda in Tacloban and Eastern Samar have been removed, while the rest are still undergoing salvaging operations, according to the Philippine Coast Guard.

The eight vessels removed from land are the M/V Lancer owned by Matsya Shipping Lines, M/V David of Candano Shipping Lines Inc., M/V Gayle of Unilink Shipping Lines Incorporated, M/V Star Hilongos of Roble Shipping Inc., LCT Rosman of R Line Transport, M/V Lady Fatima of Vicoy Ozon Shipping, and M/T Maharlika-A and M/T Maharlika-B both owned by Vicente Linao Construction.    – With Janvic Mateo, Evelyn Macairan

AQUINO

BUILDING BACK BETTER

BUREAU OF FISHERIES AND AQUATIC RESOURCES

BUTCH REBUENO

DEPARTMENT OF SOCIAL WELFARE AND DEVELOPMENT

EVELYN MACAIRAN

PLAN INTERNATIONAL PHILIPPINES

REBUENO

TACLOBAN CITY

YOLANDA

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