The Senate committee on urban planning, housing and resettlement, chaired by Ejercito, is scheduled to start its investigations today into the poor living conditions of displaced families affected by various man-made and natural disasters since 2011.
Michael Varcas/File
Ejercito claims mafia to blame for substandard housing
Paolo Romero (The Philippine Star) - May 21, 2018 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — A Senate inquiry is expected to unmask a “housing mafia” responsible for the substandard and delayed government housing projects in calamity-hit areas in the last several years, Sen. Joseph Victor Ejercito said yesterday.

The Senate committee on urban planning, housing and resettlement, chaired by Ejercito, is scheduled to start its investigations today into the poor living conditions of displaced families affected by various man-made and natural disasters since 2011.

The senator suspects that “a mafia-like group” – composed of private contractors and previous and present officials of the National Housing Authority (NHA) – could be behind the alleged corruption in the implementation of government housing programs for calamity victims.

“The construction of substandard and unlivable housing units for calamity victims despite billions of pesos allocated for them will not happen if there was no collusion between corrupt NHA officials and unscrupulous private contractors,” Ejercito said.

The probe was prompted by inspections conducted by Ejercito and other senators on various relocation sites in areas hit by calamities a few weeks ago where they saw the poor living conditions of the displaced families due to substandard or unfinished shelters. 

The senator cited, among others, the destruction and deaths caused by Tropical Storm Sendong in 2011, Typhoon Pablo in 2012, the Zamboanga siege in 2013 and Super Typhoon Yolanda in 2013.

“Several years after the occurrence of the disasters, resettlement and relocation of affected families have not been completed,” he said in his resolution calling for the inquiry.

Among those summoned to the hearing were former and present NHA officials, including current general manager Marcelino Escalda Jr. and former general manager Chito Cruz.

Among the invited developers were Christopher Morales of Performance Builders and Development Corp. for Knightsridge Residences and Crisanto Garcia of C.S. Garcia Construction for New Hope Village, both housing projects in Tacloban for typhoon Yolanda victims; Leonardo Nocum of One Dynamic Three Realty Development Corp. for the Cateel Davao Oriental project for typhoon Pablo victims and Joerge Lagumbay of Jorvivs Construction for Lumbia Heights, Cagayan de Oro City project for typhoon Sendong victims; and Henry Lim of HGL Development Corp. for Valle Vista Phase 4, Zamboanga City project for siege victims.

“We need to unmask these corrupt officials and crooked developers,” he said.

HOUSING MAFIA
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