On the road to recovery

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Monday, April 14, 2014


SAGBAYAN Mayor Ricardo Suarez went to see a wooden building being constructed beside where the town hall used to stand before watching the Pacquiao-Bradley match last Sunday.

“We hope to transfer our offices to this building next week,” Suarez told Sun.Star Cebu, referring to the single-story structure being built near piles of debris from the ruined town hall.

Six months after the 7.2 magnitude earthquake, Suarez still holds office in a tent along with all town hall employees. The police office, which used to be housed at the town hall, operates in a tent as well.

Suarez said office equipment and documents are at risk in the tents, especially when it rains.

The Bohol Provincial Government needs P5.8 billion to restore public infrastructures destroyed by the earthquake.

Cost of destruction

It needs P12.3 billion to implement its rehabilitation plan.

Apart from municipal halls, the quake destroyed roads, bridges, school buildings,
health centers and public markets in 17 badly-hit towns.

The strongest tremor to hit Bohol in 25 years also killed more than 200 people.

In Sagbayan, where the epicenter of the earthquake was recorded, 14 people died,
including five missing children believed to be buried when a landslide occurred near
the falls where they were swimming.

Suarez said the reconstruction of the town’s ruined public buildings has yet to start, but they have prepared the program of works needed to get funding support from the National Government.

The Department of Health, however, is set to give P1.5 million to rebuild the town’s health center, Suarez said.

One less hill

A few meters from the ruins of the town hall, in the center of the town, one of the Chocolate Hills is being leveled.

Town officials got the approval of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources to level the hill, or at least reduce it to a fourth of its size, to prevent landslides.

When the quake struck, a portion of the hill collapsed, destroying surrounding houses, including the mayor’s ancestral house. At least three people died.

Some 1,038 homes in the town were destroyed.

Suarez said the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), in partnership with the Habitat for Humanity, will help rebuild destroyed homes in Sagbayan, giving as much as P85,000 to each house owner.

The DSWD needs P912 million to help survivors in 17 towns to repair or rebuild their houses.

Homeless survivors in Sagbayan and in other devastated towns live in tents provided by various organizations.

But Suarez said the town is on its way to full recovery, with residents back to their daily activities.

The town proper is once again a bustling area, albeit in the shadow of an eroded Chocolate Hill.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on April 15, 2014.

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