LEYTE Rep. Yedda Marie Romualdez has urged Congress to prioritize and provide more funds for the building of adequate housing units for disaster victims.
Romualdez lamented that millions of Filipinos have continued to live in cramped, unsanitary structures in unsafe, and hazardous locations.
She pointed out it is time for Congress to pour more resources to address the acute housing backlog in the country.
The Leyte lawmaker pointed out that in the wake of manmade as well as natural disasters -- the Zamboanga siege, typhoons Sendong, Pablo, Ondoy, Yolanda, Lando, Onyok, the Bohol earthquake, hundreds of thousands of Filipinos have been severely affected -- many homes have been damaged or lost, with residents getting displaced.
“Our housing policies should be reassessed in light of the new normal -- increased intensity and magnitude of disasters, changing weather patterns, climate change and armed conflict arising from both internal and external threats,” Romualdez, wife of former House Independent Bloc Leader and ex-Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez, both president of the Philippine Constitution Association (Philconsa) and Lakas-Christian Muslim Democrats (CMD), stressed.
Romualdez proposed that the two chambers of Congress should pass a new housing code and building code and adopt a comprehensive land use, zoning and regulation policy.
Apart from these, she said, the legislature should pass a measure seeking to establish a separate department dealing solely with disaster preparedness and disaster resilience.
“Shelter is not simply the provision of a roof over our heads. Structures must be durable and resettlement sustainable,” said Romualdez.
Equally important, she emphasized, is convenient access to livelihood and job opportunities, potable water, electricity, transportation, education, and health services for the vulnerable sectors of society, including senior citizens, women, children, the sick, and persons with disabilities (PWDs), among others.
“I believe resettlement programs must be holistic and inclusive. The success and sustainability of any resettlement effort rests not only in availability of resources and political will, but also in the cooperation of all stakeholders,” said Romualdez.