French pledge 100 houses for 'Yolanda' survivors

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Monday, January 27, 2014


CEBU - The French business community in the Philippines broke ground last Saturday on its project to build 100 disaster-resistant row houses in Daanbantayan, Cebu.

The “French Village” housing project is a private sector-led rehabilitation initiative aimed to help households that survived typhoon Yolanda/Haiyan. The France-Philippines United Action (FPUA), a new organization, will implement the project over a 12-month period.

The first 100 row houses, donated by French companies with operations in the Philippines, will be erected in a 5,400-square-meter area donated by the Cebu Provincial Government.  

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Meanwhile, Mandaue City officials led by Mayor Jonas Cortes turned over P1.35 million in financial assistance to three towns in Bantayan Island, which were severely hit by super typhoon Yolanda.

The officials handed a check worth P550,000 to Bantayan Mayor Ian Christopher Escario and a check worth P400,000 each to Madridejos Mayor Salvador dela Fuente and Sta. Fe Vice Mayor Celso Espinosa last Friday.

When Yolanda struck the Visayas last Nov. 8, it killed more than 6,100 persons, caused injuries to more than 28,000 others and drove about four million persons from their homes. It also damaged or destroyed more than one million houses.

The French Village project will be done in coordination with Habitat for Humanity, which will provide architectural supervision and oversee the construction of the village.

Long-term

An estimated $500,000 will be used to build 100 homes.

Don H. Lee, who heads FPUA, said the rebuilding initiatives in Daanbantayan are just the beginning of a long-term involvement of the French business community in rehabilitating the ravaged area. “Building houses is our way of making a difference,” he said.

“As we see the outpouring of continuous relief support given to those affected, we would like to supplement these inspirational efforts by launching the rebuilding of permanent homes in these surrounding communities,” said Lee, who is the president of Lafarge Holdings (Philippines) Inc.

“We want to help families get back on their feet by providing them with an assurance of their future by delivering the peace of mind that comes from a safe and durable home,” he added.

Lafarge is a French industrial company specializing in four major products: cement, construction aggregates, concrete and gypsum wallboards. The company is the world’s largest cement manufacturer.

Cyril Rocke, president of the French Chamber of Commerce (FCC) in the Philippines, said that while typhoon-stricken areas received a lot of relief donations in the aftermath of the typhoon, member-companies of FCC wanted to develop projects that are tangible.

“This French Village project is the start of our long-term engagement in the north of Cebu,” said Rocke, during the press conference at the Waterfront Airport Hotel and Casino in Mactan.

Sweat equity

According to Charlie Ayco, chief executive officer of Habitat for Humanity, the houses will be constructed using a hyperbolic parabola design for the roof, to be made of a thin concrete shell. He said the beneficiaries will provide sweat equity for the construction of their own homes.

Ayco said the 22-square-meter house is designed to withstand 275-kph winds and intensity eight tremors. Each house with upgraded specifications will cost P200,000 to P220,000 to build.

The organizers forecast a six-month construction period to complete the first phase of the development.

Lafarge Republic Inc. President Renato Sunico said the company donated $100,000 to construct 20 row houses. Lafarge employees, through, salary deduction, also raised $15,000 to build a multi-purpose community center in the village.

Lafarge earlier announced its commitment to provide one million euros in relief supplies, logistical services, affordable housing services, and cash donations to support relief and recovery efforts in response to the damage caused by the super typhoon.

For the building of the disaster-resistant houses, the company said it will coordinate funding for the construction of the houses as well as provide the construction materials needed such as cement and aggregates.

Free materials

In addition, Lafarge’s partners and suppliers will provide free building materials for the structural requirements of the houses. Its grinding plant in Danao, Cebu, will be used as the staging area for construction materials and volunteers.

French companies like Air France KLM, L’Oreal Philippines, Sanofi Pasteur, Schneider Electric Foundation, and Total also made substantial contributions to the Philippine Red Cross and other organizations since the start of the relief operations.

Lee said they have been receiving a lot of donations for the project from French companies here and abroad. On top of building houses, they are also looking at building medical and school facilities in the second phase of development.

Daanbantayan Mayor Augusto Corro, who estimated the rehabilitation efforts to cost P1 billion, said the project “will positively impact the rehabilitation process of our town. This takes off some of the burden from the national government in terms of providing houses for the displaced residents.” 

Quoting Corro, Lee said Daanbantayan, which has 20,000 households, needs 4,000 new houses and repairs on about 18,000 houses.

A local inter-agency committee composed of various agencies will be formed to identify beneficiaries of the project, said Aycon. He said the selection will be based on the economic status and priorities will be given to households with more children, differently-abled family members and single-headed households.

Jobs ahead

Aycon also added they will continue to stay in Daanbantayan after the completion of the project as they will incorporate livelihood in the rebuilding phase.

“This is just a start of longer partnership. Building homes is just the beginning but the difficulty and the challenge lies in building the community,” said Aycon.

As for the aid from Mandaue, Mayor dela Fuente said they will use the amount to buy a generator for the town’s water system.

With the help of local and international non-government organizations, the town has been rehabilitating damaged houses and government structures like the Madridejos Community College.

Dela Fuente said they are looking for a relocation site for residents who will be affected by the 40-meter no-build zone, which the Department of Environment and Natural Resources is implementing in the aftermath of Yolanda.

Escario said he will deposit the donated amount in the town’s trust fund, which already totaled P5.5 million, for their rehabilitation and relocation program.

Espinosa, who received the check on behalf of Mayor Jose Esgana, said they will use the amount for their relocation project. He said the town has already identified three relocation sites for those living within the no-build zone.

City’s help

Cortes was accompanied by Councilors Jimmy Lumapas, Diosdado Suico, Jefferson Ceniza, Demetrio Cortes Jr., Nenita Ceniza-Layese, Editha Cabahug and Association of Barangay Captains president Ernie Manatad.

Last December, Cortes and other officials turned over the City’s cash assistance to the city of Bogo and the towns of Sogod, Borbon, Tabogon, Medellin, Daanbantayan, San Remigio and Tabuelan.

Bogo received the biggest aid with P600,000, followed by Daanbantayan with P550,000 and Borbon with P500,000. Medellin and San Remigio each got P400,000. Sogod, Tabogon and Tabuelan received P300,000.

The City has allocated P8.6 million to give financial aid to 15 local government units in northern Cebu and seven in Leyte.

Today, officials are scheduled to turn over the cash assistance to the towns of Pilar, Poro, San Francisco and Tudela in Camotes Islands.

The Leyte towns that will receive aid are the cities of Tacloban and Ormoc and the towns of Alang-Alang, Albuera, Palo, Isabel and Kananga. (Sun.Star Cebu)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on January 27, 2014.

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