THE fire in Sitio Sea Breeze, Barangay Pusok, Lapu-Lapu City that killed a woman and left 84 families homeless revived calls for access roads in slum areas and relocation sites for those living illegally in private lots or coastal areas.

Vice Mayor Mario Amores said the increasing number of squatters highlights the need for additional infrastructure that is well-planned, as well as more technical people in the City Engineer’s Office.

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He blamed the rise in population on migration and admitted it’s often difficult to provide speedy assistance to some parts of the city during emergencies, like fires.

Cirila Payac, 82, died during a blaze last Saturday that burned 63 houses, mostly made of light materials. These houses squatted on government-owned land.

Angelito, the victim’s son, said he was fetching water from a neighbor’s house when he heard an explosion. Seconds later, a fire engulfed his house.

Aid

City Councilor Junard Chan distributed canned goods and three kilos of rice for each family yesterday. The Payac family received an additional P5,000 for their other expenses, including Cirila’s burial.

“This has nothing to do with politics. I feel sorry for these people. Election season or not, these people deserve immediate help,” said Chan.

The City Social Welfare Office has been ordered by Mayor Arturo Radaza to extend whatever assistance it can to the fire victims.

The Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) has yet to verify what caused the fire, but suspects that unattended cooking may be to blame.

The City Council recently passed a resolution asking the City Planning Development Office to study the city’s capacity to handle migration and its attendant problems, like heavy traffic and an increasing amount of waste.

Erlinda Beduya, head of the Urban Poor Office, pointed out that living on shorelines is prohibited under the Urban Development and Housing Act, but the City is still working on a relocation site for Sitio Sea Breeze’s families.

Aside from the proposed 24-hectare socialized housing site in Barangay Canjulao, she said, the City is considering a relocation site in each barangay.

Chan said the increasing number of squatters indicates the City’s failure to implement socialized housing projects.