ORMOC CITY – The city council here, this week, has given Mayor Edward Codilla the nod to sign a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) to implement a “modified scheme” of the Emergency Shelter Assistance (ESA). That is, after a written approval from Social Welfare Secretary Corazon “Dinky” Soliman for the modified scheme is secured.
Under the modified scheme, qualified beneficiaries with “totally damaged” houses that should be getting P 30,000.00 would only get P 15,713.24 each, while those with “partially damaged” homes will get their full P 10,000.00.
Ormoc City already has a P 689-million allocation for its ESA in this year’s General Appropriation’s Act. The Office of the Presidential Assistant for Rehabilitation and Recovery (OPARR) proposed the funding requirement for around 43,000 homes in the city, under the comprehensive recovery plan signed by Pres. Benigno S. Aquino III on August.
However, its release has been delayed because the CSWDO here could not submit their documents early. The City Social Welfare and Development Office here claims the P 689-million is not enough because their assessment shows that there are actually 52,353 victim families, with 29,029 “totally damaged” and 23,323 “partially damaged”, an almost 10,000 difference to that of the OPARR figures.
Meanwhile, to legitimize the proposed scheme, ex-officio city councilor Atty. Mariano Corro, a political ally of the mayor, suggested that the proviso about getting a written approval from Soliman first before it is implemented, is expressed in the resolution. This is to avoid questions from the Commission on Audit (COA) about it later on.
The resolution also requests that the national government to fund the remaining balance of P 14,286.76 each to “totally damaged” beneficiaries in next year’s GAA.
The proposed modified scheme contradicts DSWD MC 24, issued by Social Welfare Secretary Corazon “Dinky” Soliman herself in November 2014, specifically stating that qualified beneficiaries with totally damaged houses should get P 30,000 while those who suffered partial damage gets P 10,000.00.
Several Yolanda-affected towns in Leyte, Samar, Cebu and Western Visayas have already distributed the ESA according to the guidelines, and there have been no requests to modify the ESA.
Mayors in various towns where ESA has already been distributed noted that making a special case about Ormoc City could upset future distributions, even them who have already dealt with the matter. The latest ESA distribution was in Javier, Leyte, and town officials followed the guidelines.
The delay in the distribution of ESA in this city has been a contentious issue. It was recently brought to light by city councilor Vincent Rama, chair of the social welfare committee, when he invited DSWD regional director Nestor Ramos and city social welfare officer Marietta Legaspi to a formal meeting a few weeks ago, to shed light on why it was delayed.
Regional director Ramos said it was because the city social welfare office could not submit the right documents to them, while city social welfare Legaspi said they were still finalizing the listing.
The city social welfare officer has also refused to publicize the listing, saying it will create chaos. Two letters from councilor Rama to give him the list has been ignored, Rama said.
Councilor Rama, on the other hand, said he believes that making the list public will make everything transparent, and will ensure that no qualified beneficiary is left out in the ESA.