2 years after Yolanda and Bohol earthquake: Survivors still waiting for financial assistance from Aquino

Ma'am Buclatan (center) with her fellow Yolanda survivor, ACT Teachers Region VIII coordinator, Dr. Efleda Bautista (right) and Rep. Tinio (left)


10 November 2015

Reference:  ACT Teachers Rep. Antonio L. Tinio (09209220817)


Thousands of education personnel who survived Yolanda and the Bohol earthquake will have a bleak Christmas, warned ACT Teachers Party-List Antonio L. Tinio, who revealed that Aquino has yet to extend promised financial assistance to DepEd personnel in regions affected by supertyphoon Yolanda and the Bohol earthquake.

“The employees who rebuilt or repaired their homes after the disasters have to deal with yet another disaster, caused this time by the unconscionably long delay of the Office of the President (OP) in the release of the housing reimbursement aid from the President’s Social Fund,” said Tinio.  “Thousands of DepEd employees in the affected areas are deep in debt.”

Said financial aid was promised by the Presidential Management Staff (PMS) in January 2014 to employees in 27 DepEd divisions in Regions IV-A, IV-B, V, VI, VII, VIII, X, and XI as reimbursement for the repair and reconstruction of their houses.  The refund is either P100,000 and P30,000 for totally and partially damaged houses, respectively.  The PMS is directly under the (OP) and headed by Julia Abad, daughter of budget Secretary Florencio Abad.

Tinio said that because PMS released only the first tranche of the total funds for the aid, or P642.13 billion, beneficiaries received only a portion of the total aid, while many are still waiting for their reimbursements.  According to the affected Divisions, the PMS and OP have yet to give them certain information as to when the second tranche will be released or how much they can still expect.

Tinio estimates that about half of the total employees in the affected areas, or 15,000 public school teachers and non-teaching personnel, are still waiting for the assistance.

Around 2,000 of the teachers and non-teaching staff in the Division of Capiz City, or a mere third of its total workforce, have received the PSF aid.  About 4,000, including all those stationed in the division office and at least 1,500 teachers, are still waiting.

This unconscionably long delay in the processing and release of the assistance and the OP’s turtle-paced procedures and arbitrary guidelines are symptoms of the Aquino administration’s criminal indifference and negligence towards victims of natural disasters, said Tinio.

Tinio said that his office received numerous complaints aside from the long delay and partial or non-receipt of the assistance, such as arbitrary disqualification and exclusion from the list of beneficiaries for unknown reasons.

Employees also report that upon arbitrary inspection and validation procedures made by the PMS and the Office of Civil Defense (OCD), which vets the applications on behalf of the PMS, they were either downgraded from “totally damaged” to “partially damaged” or totally excluded because their houses are allegedly still habitable or were not damaged at all.  A common complaint is employees’ disqualification because these agencies strictly require documents of ownership of the damaged properties and residence in the areas from survivors who lost these to the disasters.

“Aquino merely adds to his criminal indifference and negligence towards victims of natural disasters, a fact already protested in the affected areas, even in the international scene, and compounds the victims’ suffering,” said Tinio.

He also urged OP and PMS to fast-track the processing of the assistance.  “These survivors have their finances drained because they had to repair their houses, some are even living in makeshift or uninhabitable houses which they cannot fully repair because they lack the funds.  Aquino should not let them spend Christmas and New Year in these dire conditions and release the assistance to the survivors as soon as possible.” ###