New Bataan builds permanent homes for Pablo victims

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Friday, December 13, 2013

A YEAR after Typhoon Pablo hit Compostela Valley (Comval) province, one of its most badly-hit municipalities is now working double time in building thousands of permanent houses in New Bataan.

Town Mayor Lorenzo Balbin Jr. said they are building a total of 2,300 permanent houses in 18-hectare land in Barangay Andap with the help the National Housing Authority (NHA) where the displaced families will be relocated.

“Ang vulnerable i-relocate sila, kasabot naman sila, nakaexperience na sila (Those vulnerable will be relocated there),” he said.

Balbin said residents living near riverbanks have already learned the perils of residing in areas identified by the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) as danger zones based on the geo-hazard mapping.

“Nasa state of recovery kami, housing na ang focus naming,” he said.

He added there were more than 2,000 totally damaged houses while the partially damaged were over 5,000 reported after the onslaught of Pablo, which also affected Davao Oriental on December 4, 2012.

Different groups constructed bunkhouses for the homeless families. Among them were from Department of Social and Welfare Development (DSWD) with 72 units, Technical Education Skills and Development (Tesda) with 10, Holcim Philippines with 100, and Davao Medical School Foundation with 75.

These bunkhouses were put in place to provide families a temporary shelter, which can last up to 12 years the most.

Balbin admitted that they are still reeling from the damages brought by Pablo to their primary agricultural crop -- coconut. This crop takes about five to six years before they can bear fruits.

“Coconut is our major product. Out of 100 percent, mga 20 percent nalang ang naiwan,” he said, adding that New Bataan spans a total land area of 55,000 hectares, with 40,000 hectares intended for agricultural crops.

But Balbin said a total of 26,000 rubber trees will be planted across New Bataan. Of the total trees, 13,000 were distributed by Department of Agriculture (DA) 11 while another 13,000 seedlings from the Municipal Government as part of its long-term program for the affected individuals.

Short and medium-term programs include planting of rice, vegetable, cacao, corn, and coffee.

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on December 13, 2013.

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