Contractor denies substandard materials used for Yolanda housing units

Published September 18, 2017 7:21pm

The contractor for the Yolanda housing project on Monday denied the accusations against his company regarding the "snail-paced" implementation of the project.

During a hearing by the House Committee on Housing and Urban Development, Juanito Tayag, owner of JC Tayag Builders Inc., belied the claim of Camilo Salazar that the materials for the housing project were substandard, among others.

The House panel is investigating the perceived snail-paced implementation of housing relocation and resettlement projects for those affected by Typhoon Yolanda, which battered Eastern Visayas in November 2013, killing over 6,000 people.

Tayag, in his testimony, claimed that, contrary to what Salazar said, they did not use 8- millimeter steel rods for the construction of the houses instead of 10 millimeters.

"The allegation of substandard issue from the unverified statement of Mr. Salazar is malicious. We categorically deny the allegations of Mr. Salazar," he said.

"Our company records can attest to the fact that the company never purchased or used 8-millimeter rods for the construction," he added.

Tayag also added that Salazar is not a licensed engineer, and that his company hired the latter as foreman to oversee their housing projects in Balangiga, Eastern Samar.

"The company requested him (Salazar) to bring in more workers and he would be the leader of that labor group.... The company was not satisfied with his performance. He never did show any improvement, which led to his termination," he said.

"The unverified statement of Mr. Salazar was treated as if it was gospel truth," he added.

Tayag also denied the allegation that 80 to 90 percent of the contracts for the housing project was awarded to JC Tayag Builders Inc. "This is absolutely false," he said.

He said that out of the 7,573 housing units in Eastern Samar, only 2,949 units, or 39.9 percent, were constructed by JC Tayag Builders Inc.

"The contracts for the housing units were not given to us on a silver platter. The company underwent in a rigorous process of bidding of NHA," Tayag said, at the same time arguing that there was no delay in the implementation of the housing projects.

"To clarify the role of JC Tayag regarding the housing project, our company entered into a contract with the NHA to construct some housing units. We agreed that the implementation of the projects started way back in 2013," he said.

"But please take note, that the notice to proceed with the project was released by NHA in early and mid-2016. So it is not true that we started the project four years ago," he added.

For his part, Salazar did not deny Tayag's testimony that he was not a licensed engineer. "Ang sinabi po ni Mr. Tayag, lahat po ng documents na sinubmit ko, ay Camilo Salazar, wala pong engineer," he said.

Negros Occidental Representative Alfredo Benitez, the chairman of the committee, admitted that it was only them who called Salazar an engineer.

"Mukhang kami lang yata ang naglagay ng engineer sa inyo e," Benitez said, drawing laughter from the attendees of the hearing.

Despite this, Salazar insisted that his expertise and rich experience in the field makes him more than qualified for the job.

The House panel earlier warned that Tayag may face plunder and estafa complaints over the allegedly anomalous construction of housing units.

A deeper investigation into the matter, with the help of the Committee on Good Government and Public Accountability, should also be conducted, the panel said.

The Commission on Audit and the Department of Public Works and Highways should also look into the structural integrity of the houses constructed for the victims of Typhoon Yolanda, they added. —KBK, GMA News