Disqualified survivors may get shelter aid if...
Michael Vencynth H. Braga/JMD (The Freeman) - March 18, 2015 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines - Survivors of super typhoon Yolanda in northern Cebu who are not eligible to receive the Emergency Shelter Assistance under the guidelines may still have the chance to get the financial aid.

But only after all eligible survivors will have been catered to, said Department of Social Welfare and Development assistant secretary Vilma Cabrera.

In a consultation meeting on the new ESA guidelines yesterday, Cabrera urged mayors to prioritize in their disbursement of ESA funds those residents who don’t have questionable eligibility.

Cabrera said when all qualified survivors have received their aid, the remaining fund can still be utilized.

Survivors in the masterlist who were disqualified because they earn beyond the income ceiling set by the guidelines can still receive the assistance, “depending on the circumstances.”

She said the only way to address the concern is for the barangay to come up with a resolution seeking for the inclusion of such survivors back into the list, subject for approval of the DSWD central office.

“Di guaranteed ‘yun kaagad. Depende sa ilang presentation and evidence,” she said.

The barangay resolution, she added, will be used for auditing purposes.

Cabrera’s statements were in response to the views of the mayors opposing a provision of the guidelines which excludes government employees with monthly income of more than P15,000 from availing of the assistance.

Medellin Mayor Ricardo Ramirez said the masterlist their town submitted to DSWD for ESA allocation indicated those survivors with partially damaged and completely destroyed houses, regardless of whether their incomes were below or beyond the poverty threshold.

Ramirez, whose sentiments were shared by majority of the mayors, said it would be unfair for those survivors who have waited for the ESA for a year only to be excluded because of guidelines which were issued by DSWD Secretary Corazon “Dinky” Soliman only in November 2014 or one year after Yolanda hit the country on November 8, 2013.

“Imagine, ikaw nagdahom ka sulod sa usa ka tuig nga mahatagan ka kay naapil ka sa lista. Unsa kaha’y bation ana nga hapit na ka sa finish line nga moguwa ang kwarta unya ingnan ka nga di pwede… The calamity struck everyone, wa ma’y gipili,” he said.

The mayor also lamented over Soliman not allegedly conferring with local chief executives before issuing the memorandum on the guidelines.

Had they been consulted, the mayors could have given their inputs, said Ramirez.

“Daghan na kaayong reklamo karon. Kami ang gi-blame,” he said as he suggested that the guidelines should be amended.

Cabrera, for her part, told mayors that they can always lobby to the DSWD secretary if some people, who were previously disqualified, still need the assistance.

However, Cabrera clarified that towns can no longer request for additional ESA funds.

As Soliman advised, the number of Yolanda survivors the towns wish to include as beneficiaries should not exceed the target numbers under the Comprehensive Rehabilitation and Recovery Plan, said Cabrera.

“Kay ang number sa beneficiaries mao ra man to atong gibasehan sa budget para sa (particular) town,” she explained.

The concerned mayors were amenable to the remedy introduced by the DSWD.

For Bantayan Mayor Christopher Escario, the meeting yesterday enlightened and gave him a relief.

“Migaan-gaan atong paminaw. Ang mga tawo mura’g malipay na. Di man mi mangayo og additional budget. Nalista na man sila, para ila man ang kwarta, ihatag na unta na nila tanan,” he told reporters.

He added he wanted the ESA to be distributed as soon as possible so he could attend to the other priorities of his municipality.

“Daghan pa tang butang buhaton para sa rehabilitation, dili lang kining assistance. Mao ra man ni nakapagubot,” he said.

San Remigio Mayor Mariano Martinez was thankful that they were given the venue to have their sentiments heard.

“Very clear ang explanation. Mihangyo ko nga mangayo’g copy sa presentation sa DSWD aron ipasabot nako sa katawhan,” he said.

The DSWD also turned over P188 million in ESA funds to San Remigio town during yesterday’s conference which was also attended by mayors of Tabogon, Daanbantayan, Tudela, Sogod, Santa Fe and Poro.

Under the guidelines, Yolanda victims whose houses were “partially damaged” are entitled to receive P10,000, while those whose  houses were completely destroyed are to get P30,000. — (FREEMAN)

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