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10 hectares for shelter to typhoon evacuees

/ 09:10 PM November 19, 2013

Thousands of typhoon survivors are fleeing their devastated communities in the Visayas aboard the C-130 cargo planes flying relief supplies to the storm-hit areas. Most of them are flocking to Metro Manila. Those who have relatives and friends in the metropolis would be all right, but what about those who don’t have any? They have no relatives or friends, no shelter, no food, no jobs, how will they cope in the crowded and cruel metropolis?

Happily, somebody has offered them shelter and jobs. Former Quezon City Rep. Annie Rosa Susano texted me to offer 10 hectares of her family’s property in Montalban, Rizal, as a site for a tent city or for bunkhouses to give the evacuees temporary shelter. Not only that, she has offered them stalls in the Susano market in Novaliches, free, so the evacuees will have a means of livelihood. She said there are suppliers who give goods to market vendors payable on installment basis as they earn from selling the products.

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“They will have shelter and they will have jobs,” she said. “I don’t want them to look like beggars. Let us help them. God gives them courage and hope.”

I am heartened by the outpouring of sympathy and help for the typhoon victims. Everywhere groups are raising and donating funds to typhoon victims. They are canceling the traditional Christmas parties and instead will donate the money they would otherwise spend for the parties to the typhoon victims. The homeowners association in the village where I live is donating the P200,000 budget for its Christmas party. A group calling itself “Friends of Guiuan” is raising funds for the victims of that devastated municipality in Samar.

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And a group of singing stars is holding a benefit dinner at the Adarna restaurant in Quezon City on Nov. 29 to raise funds for the storm-hit areas. The dinner will have an all-Visayan menu to the accompaniment of kundiman songs.

I don’t know who the performers will be but Aliw Awardee Margaux Salcedo, who gave me the above information, will be among the singers.

But be careful to whom you give the donations. There are so many groups and “Napoles-like” NGOs asking for donations that there will surely be some leakage. To be sure, donate to established institutions like the Red Cross and Unicef. The staff of Unicef is working 24 hours, seven days a week without fanfare to bring help to the children of the typhoon-devastated communities. With Unicef, you can be sure that your donation will be spent wisely and transparently.

It is very easy to donate to Unicef, too; you can donate online. Just click http://donate.unicef.ph/.

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In contrast to the generosity of many people from the Philippines and the international community, a QC councilor is showing selfishness and greed. In the midst of the widespread devastation and suffering, Councilor Victor V. Ferrer wants to increase the taxes in Quezon City by imposing a “garbage fee” of up to P500 on every QC household. If approved, the ordinance will take affect this January. Those who fail to pay on time will be charged an additional 50 percent of the garbage tax plus 29-percent interest until paid. The QC council’s ways and means committee will hold a public hearing on Ferrer’s proposed ordinance a day after tomorrow, Nov. 22, at the UP-Ayala Technohub. I urge officials and members of homeowners associations to go there and voice their opposition.

I already voiced mine in last Monday’s column, Nov. 18. This is a continuation of that opposition:

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5. The QC council is getting the bad habit of increasing and imposing additional taxes on the already overburdened residents. Soon after the new councilors assumed office three years ago, they imposed the 5-percent housing tax on every real property owner. The tax is supposed to be spent for the housing of squatters. Property owners paid, thinking that at last the city government would eject the squatters from their properties in exchange for the taxes they pay. Billions of pesos have already been collected, but until now not a single hollow block of that housing project has been put in place. What are they doing with all that money.

6. I will tell you what is happening to that money and why the councilors want to increase the city’s income by imposing additional taxes. Ten percent of that income goes to the councilors as their own pork barrel, which is as riddled with corruption as the pork barrel of the members of Congress is.

It was started during the term of Mayor Ishmael Mathay Jr. and is being continued until now. During the administration of Mayor Feliciano Belmonte, now Speaker of the House of Representatives, the pork was already P40 million per councilor. It must be more now because of the housing tax. With the garbage tax it would be even more.

There are 22 QC councilors. That means P880 million, nearly P1 billion, of the people’s taxes go to the councilors’ pork. What are they doing with all that money? Is that pork being audited by the Commission on Audit?

QC is already well-developed—except for the squatter colonies. All QC streets are concreted; and there are enough schools. Again, I ask, what are they doing with all that pork? Why are there still so many homeless folk in the city? Why can’t the property owners take possession of their lots? Why does the city government allow the theft of the properties of taxpayers?

7. QC does not need more money to collect garbage. It has billions of pesos in the bank. Those are the taxes paid by QC residents who are being squeezed to lay more golden eggs.

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TAGS: annie rosa susano, column, garbage tax, neal h. cruz, Quezon City, shelter, typhoon evacuees
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