TACLOBAN CITY- The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) in Eastern Visayas issued an appeal to local government units hit by Super typhoon “Yolanda” to distribute the emergency shelter assistance (ESA) to affected families.

In a media interview, Nestor Ramos, DSWD regional director, said that the distribution of the ESA should be finish by June 30 of this year.
Otherwise, if the local government units will dilly-dally in the release of the shelter assistance, it might be affected by elections ban, Ramos said.

The country is to observe a presidential election on May 9, 2016.

“I am appealing to the local government units to complete all documents and if they already received ESA funds, they should release it immediately to recipients. If it won’t be released after June 30 or early July, it will be affected by election ban on October 30,” Ramos said.

Lawyer Felicisimo Embalsado, assistant regional director of the Commission on Elections, however, said that they have yet receive the calendar of activities relative to next year elections, to include the period on prohibition like releases of government funds.

DSWD-8 Director Nestor Ramos. File Photo
DSWD-8 Director Nestor Ramos. File Photo

“It is the Comelec en banc which sets the calendar of activities. But generally, the ban applies three months before the election and one month after the elections,” Embalsado said.

However, he agrees with the appeal of the DSWD regional director to release the ESA to the beneficiaries as early as possible or before the onset of the ban to avoid the fund being used for political purpose.

“This might be used by the candidates during the elections. The voter’s preference might be influenced by the one giving the assistance and not of his own choice,” Embalsado said.

This is the second time that the DSWD issued an appeal to the LGUs to finish the distribution of the shelter assistance. It first issued an April deadline which was not accomplished.

Since the distribution of the ESA to families whose houses were either partially or totally washed out due to Yolanda in September this year, only 20 out of 63 areas hit by Yolanda have distributed the assistance.

Of these areas, 12 were from Leyte, which included Tacloban considered the ground zero of the world’s strongest typhoon to make landfall; and four each in Samar and Eastern Samar provinces.

A family whose house was totally destroyed stand to receive P30, 000 for ESA while it is P10, 000 for those whose house was partially destroyed.
Not entitled to receive as those living in so-called “danger zone areas and government employees receiving salaries of P15, 000 and above.

For Eastern Visayas, P6 billion was allocated for ESA with P1.8 billion been released benefitting more than 121,000 families.