Residents fear mega dike construction in Oro

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Tuesday, June 3, 2014


RESIDENTS of Barangay Bonbon, a coastal village in Cagayan de Oro City, are anxious of the planned construction of an anti-flood structure in 2016.

Bonbon chairman Jackie Lynn Merto said a mega dike will be constructed along the areas that were affected by Typhoon Sendong in 2011.

The dike will be built along the stretch of barangays Bonbon, Macabalan, Puntod, Carmen and Balulang.

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“The national project is funded by JICA (Japan International Cooperation Agency), in coordination with the Department of Public Works and Highway (DPWH), the City Planning (CP) and first district representative Rolando ‘Klarex’ Uy,” said Merto.

Although the plan has not reached its final deliberation, residents of Bonbon, however, are fretting why their barangay has been included.

“We do not agree to Bonbon’s inclusion in the construction. If they are to point out the typhoon Sendong, again, Bonbon was not affected since there was no serious damage in our properties or even casualties,” Manolo Biernes, a resident, said.

Biernes is a driver whose jeepney ply the Bonbon-Cogon route. He showed his jeepney, which has been under his hands for almost 20 years now. He has four children, who are all still in school.

“All of my children depend on my job,” he said.

“If they are to relocate us because of the construction of the mega dike, I will definitely lose this job. I am used to this place because this where I grew up, too,” Biernes added.

The breadth of zones 1 to 9 of Bonbon will be affected, Merto said.

Bobby Paasa, a longtime resident, said he is uncomfortable with the relocation soon as the construction starts in two years.

“I pay my taxes well and I do not miss it because that is one obligation a citizen of the Philippines. And they are to relocate us to far-flung areas? We own the land where our houses are built. Titulado kana (Our lands have titles)!” Paasa said.

“I have built my house for years already. I started the house with wood, and later when I came from Canada, I cemented it. We did not have a gate at first, but when we had enough money, we built one. And the government would suddenly tell us to move out? Binuang mana (That is foolishness),” he added.

“They have a nice plan in preparing the city for bigger floods. Who wouldn’t agree to that? But our question here is why would they include Bonbon when only the riverside areas were greatly affected by Sendong? We experience floods here since we are in between the river and sea, but all of us can tell you that we never complained about floods since we knew what Bonbon is,” Paasa said, adding “Bonbon was once a marsh land and true, there was a creek here.”

Bonbon’s prime livelihood revolves on fishing and harvesting ‘nipa’ shrubs.

Ronel Kaamingo is a fisherman who gets enough ‘tamban’ (sardine) to sell for the day.

“Majority of the fathers here in Bonbon depend only on fishing. I did not do well when I was still schooling so I ended up having this source of income. But this is decent and this is the only thing I know. My children survived through the years with this. My first son is now going to college so I must double my efforts on fishing,” Kaamingo said.

“If they are to pull us out here, I do not know what to do,” he added.

Gold

Antonio Amantio is 78 years old and also a fisherman. He shared that he once saw treasure hunters who claimed that Bonbon has gold.

“Many have attempted to dig gold here but operations were suddenly cut off after a few months since they could not find any,” Amantio said.

“It crossed my mind that the construction of the mega dike is just a front. Why do they have to include Bonbon when my ancestors have witnessed no calamity had ever struck here. Me, being alive until now, is one proof,” he furthered.

“Instead of putting their money so much into the mega dike here, why don’t they make a mega dike in Tacloban [which] was greatly struck by the recent typhoon Yolanda? And they said they are to relocate us somewhere in Lumbia? They haven’t even made relocation houses to all the victims of Sendong,” Amantio said.

Loreno Daba, who is also a resident of Bonbon, said that they have started some steps already against the construction.

“We want them to hear our cries to. We are the ones affected once they will start the construction, and not them. So we made a signature campaign and we are hoping they will not include us in the covered area of construction in 2016,” Daba said.

Merto said once construction will start, the Bonbon National High School, their barangay hall, city health center, covered court and other infrastructures will be greatly affected by it.

“Not one resident here likes the project. Imagine, all zones will be relocated. Hundreds of families will be affected by it. Nevertheless, we are making an appeal to them and will continue to make an appeal in the future,” she vowed.

Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on June 03, 2014.

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