Pablo survivors still waiting for permanent shelter

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Thursday, December 5, 2013

A YEAR after Typhoon Pablo struck New Bataan, Compostela Valley, affected residents still don't have the "permanent shelter" that was promised to them by the government.

The local government unit appealed to its constituents to "bear with them."

Noel Cabaguio, one of the survivors from the wrath of Typhoon Pablo on December 4, 2012, said he "expected too much" from what the government told them days after the tragedy.

"My expectations turned into nothing," Cabaguio said in the vernacular when interviewed during the inauguration of the Andap ng Liwanag memorial monument in Barangay Andap, New Bataan on Wednesday, December 4, the same day when the typhoon ravaged his house last year.

Cabaguio said he and his family are still staying in a temporary shelter that the LGU had provided them after the typhoon, with an assurance that "permanent shelter" will be given to them "immediately".

"But nothing was given to us until now. It's been a year after our house was wrecked by the typhoon. Although, we have somehow recovered but we need the permanent shelter that they promised us," he said.

"We expected too much. I want to ask our local officials, where is it now? We need it," he added.

Cabaguio is a resident of Barangay Andap, the hardest-hit village in New Bataan.

There were a total of 436 people who died in New Bataan, mostly in Barangay Andap, posting the highest death toll among the towns hit by Pablo out of a thousand dead nationwide.

According to the report of the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, heavy debris from a resort village in the mountains of Andap were swept downstream causing the death of most of the victims.

Houses, farmlands, a portion of the cemetery in Andap were buried under rocks and boulders all the way down to Cogonon due to the debris flow.

The Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) said approximately five meters of debris covered the barangay center of Andap.

Compostela Valley Governor Arturo Uy, on the other hand, admitted the local government's "failure" in providing an immediate permanent housing for the survivors.

However, he was quick to add that the municipality of New Bataan is facing certain problems on housing aspect, thus, he appealed to his constituents to "bear with them".

"That's true. Naay problema nganhi because limitado ang mga lugar na gi-assess s MGB nga safe. So nagkaproblema si mayor (Balbin) ug pangita (Only few areas were declared safe by MGB that's why Mayor Balbin had a difficult time looking for the right place)," Uy said.

Although he said the NHA will undertake the permanent shelter on 10 hectares intended for the affected families, the dilemma is on the contractor.

"Naplastar na ni sa silong, about mga 500 houses na itukod unta sa Andap, pero ning-atras ang contractor kay medyo bukid ba. According to Mayor Balbin, lugi daw sila (contractor) sa ilang pondo (It's all set to build 500 houses to be built in Andap but the contractor backed out since it's a remote place)," he said.

Because of that, Uy said he thought of writing a letter to the NHA, informing them of the problem and suggesting that the NHA may just download the funding to the LGU, which will be responsible of working on it.

So far, the NHA has not yet responded to his letter of request, he said.

"Kadtong complaints, ila lang sabton gamay kay strikto kaayo ang MGB sa pagpili ug resettlement area. Dili sila naga pataka lang ug recommend, it should be very, very safe. That's why medyo madugay gamay pero ang budget naa man (They need to understand that the MGB is strict in choosing an area for resettlement. That's why it would take time)," Uy said.

In an interview, New Bataan Mayor Lorenzo Balbin Jr. said some 1,000 families out of 3,000 affected families have already acquired permanent shelters granted by the government and non-government offices.

"Naa tay ginapabuhat sa NHA na permanent shelter. In fact, sige pa ko negotiate sa mga developer kay ang safe area na gitudlo sa MGB kay layo diri (We are working with the NHA for the permanent shelter. In fact, I am still on the process of negotiating with the developers since the safe area, according to the MGB, is in a far-flung place)," he said.

Balbin said they are presently negotiating some 10 hectares for the affected families.

"Oo one year na pero ang problema nako ang developer, gusto nako magpatabang sa ilaha (Yes it's been a year but my problem is with the developers. I want them to help us)," he said.

Meanwhile, Malacañang re-assured that the government continues to address the needs of people affected by Typhoon Pablo (Bopha), which devastated parts of Mindanao one year ago.

Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Secretary
Herminio "Sonny" Coloma Jr. said a task force headed by Cabinet Secretary Jose Rene Almendras is preparing a budget for rehabilitation work.

"Meron pong inilatag na rehabilitation program para sa Typhoon Pablo-affected areas. Meron pong Task Force Pablo na pinangungunahan ni Cabinet Secretary Jose Rene Almendras at meron na rin pong inihahandang budget para sa ganap na implementasyon nito (We have a rehabilitation program for Pablo-affected areas, Task Force Pablo under Cabinet Secretary Jose Rene Almendras. It has a budget for the implementation of the rehabilitation program)," Coloma said.

Coloma said the post-Pablo rehabilitation efforts include identifying areas where new homes should not be built.

He added authorities have used modern technology to identify resettlement areas that do not pose a major geohazard risk.

"Kasi kung maaalala natin, marami po doon sa mga nasawi ay nakatira sa mga landslide-prone areas (Many of the fatalities from Pablo were living in landslide-prone areas)," he said. (With PCOO News)

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on December 06, 2013.

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