MANILA (Mabuhay) – The supposed overpricing of temporary shelters being built for survivors of Typhoon Yolanda has been under investigation since last month, Presidential Assistant for Rehabilitation and Recovery Panfilo Lacson said Monday.
Lacson said he was tipped off on “possible anomalies” on the construction of the bunkhouses in Leyte and Eastern Samar when he visited Yolanda-hit areas last month.
“I received information and allegations of possible anomalies and kickbacks involving at least one politician in the area colluding with contractors,” he said.
The former senator added that his sources, who he did not identify, “talked of 30 to 35 percent commissions.”
At a press briefing in Malacañang, Public Works chief Rogelio Singson vowed to quit his post if it is proven that there was overpricing in the construction of bunkhouses for the typhoon victims.
Denying that there was overpricing, Singson, however, admitted there is a possibility that some of the specifications were not followed.
On Monday, the Philippine Daily Inquirer, citing information from the group Camp Coordination and Camp Management (CCCM), reported alleged overpricing and substandard work on the construction of bunkhouses for Yolanda survivors.
In the same report, Public Works director for Eastern Visayas Rolando Asis said the bunkhouses were not overpriced, and were in fact priced lower than similar shelters for victims of other typhoons.
Over 1.1 million houses were damaged after Yolanda, one of the strongest typhoons on record to ever make landfall, ripped through central Philippines in early November. A total of 6,166 individuals have been confirmed dead due to the super typhoon, based on latest government records.
DPWH, PNP involved in probe
Lacson, who was appointed last month by President Benigno Aquino III as the primary point person for Yolanda rehabilitation efforts, said he has been “closely” coordinating with Singson while “quietly investigating” the matter.
“I have documents pertaining to the programs of work, bills of materials and specifications… I need to compare the same with the DPWH standard specs,” Lacson said.
He added that Singson promised to send relevant documents to him in connection with the construction of the bunkhouses.
The Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) are also being tapped to assist in the probe, said Lacson, who is also a former PNP chief.
Lacson also said appropriate charges will be filed before the Office of the Ombudsman once investigators have “sufficient evidence” on the alleged anomalies.
“We offer no second chance to people who cannot distinguish anymore between ordinary and extraordinary corruption,” he said. (MNS)