ICUPAO cleanses list of housing beneficiaries

Ricky Alejo photo

THE Iloilo City Urban Poor Affairs Office (ICUPAO) is taking a second look at the beneficiaries of the city government’s socialized housing program to remove undeserving awardees and to strengthen a transparent and strict selection process.

The move came in the heels of an Ombudsman decision indicting current and former ICUPAO officials for allegedly favoring persons who were unqualified to receive relocation lots in Arevalo district.

“We want to make sure that those staying in the relocation sites are beneficiaries of the city government’s socialized housing project,” said Jeck Conlu, ICUPAO chairperson, in an interview with City Hall beat reporters.

ICUPAO conducts revalidation of lot awardees, which it targets to complete by the end of first quarter of 2017. After revalidation, assessment will follow, then, awarding of lots to beneficiaries.

Conlu stressed that revalidation is crucial for the city to address its 12,000 socialized housing application backlogs.

With no available relocation sites and houses, he said the vacated units of violators can be immediately awarded to those who really need it.

“We have issued almost 200 notices of violations to beneficiaries, and almost half have explained before my office why we should not withdraw the lot award,” Conlu said.

ICUPAO found that some beneficiaries are not living in the units awarded to them, instead rented their units to others and opted to remain in the area supposedly they vacated.

Apparently, the violators reasoned that they did not relocate as their former residence is closer to school and place of work.

Conlu stressed he ordered “careful” validation as all problems start in the validation process.

On orders of Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog, Conlu also wants the selection process to be transparent.

After the validation, ICUPAO will post the names of the awardees so the villagers can check if indeed, they are residents of their barangay.

“So, anyone can report if those in the list are not deserving to be in the list, and I can immediately call the attention of the validators,” Conlu said.

This year, Conlu said ICUPAO’s priorities are applicants subject to ejectment and those residing in danger zones.

In the last three years ago, ICUPAO’s top priority beneficiaries are those affected by government infrastructure projects, particularly road widening followed by those residing in danger zones like creeks, shores, riverbanks, etc. and those with ejectment order from the court.

ICUPAO records indicated that 300 applicants have pending ejectment cases while those in danger zones are residing in Barangays Pali, Mulle Loney, Baluarte, Onate, Jereos, among others.

Meanwhile, Conlu appealed to City Hall and barangay officials not to appeal the cases of violators: “Per instruction of Mayor Mabilog and City Administrator Hernando Galvez, ang qualified, qualified, ang indi, indi.”

Earlier, the Office of the Deputy Ombudsman recommended the filing of a graft charge against ICUPAO executive director Wilfredo Jurilla and former site coordinator Nelia Secusana for “manifest partiality and gross inexcusable negligence.”

The case stemmed from the complaint filed by former Iloilo Province administrator Manuel Mejorada against Jurilla, Secusana, Ma. Lourdes Gemma Belarmino, ICUPAO over-all site coordinator; and Jeffrey Celiz, former political liaison officer of Iloilo City Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog last Jan. 15, 2013.

Mejorada claimed as fraudulent the awarding of two relocation lots in Project 3, JICA-Sooc Relocation Site in Arevalo, Iloilo City to Celiz and to his purported dummies who were allegedly unqualified.

Mejorada also claimed that Celiz allegedly used dummies – his mother-in-law Gilda H. Canilao and sister Suzara Luces – to avail of the relocation lots.

Thus, the lot awards were “fictitious and constituted acts of misrepresentation, dishonesty, fraud, gross misconduct, and the transactions were prejudicial and disadvantageous to the government.”

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