A “SAFER” school awaits at least 1,500 public elementary and high school students from the mountain barangay of Cantao-an in the City of Naga.
A groundbreaking ceremony for five three-story buildings at the schools’ relocation site was held on Thursday, Aug. 29, 2019, nearly a year after former mayor and now Vice Mayor Kristine Vanessa Chiong ordered the immediate evacuation of the students and faculty.
Chiong had ordered the evacuation in October 2018, a month after a massive landslide hit Barangay Tina-an in the city, killing 78 persons who were all buried alive.
Before the evacuation, the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) had reported that the area where the Cantao-an Elementary and Secondary Schools stood had a “moderate to high” landslide susceptibility rating.
But after a few more tests, the MGB had increased the area’s landslide susceptibility rating to “high to very high.”
Chiong had ordered the immediate evacuation after conducting consultations with barangay officials, the Department of Education City of Naga Schools Division and the parents concerned.
The old schools, which were located on a slope along the road, were condemned.
Almost a year later, construction works for the new Cantao-an schools may finally start soon. The project is expected to be completed within a year.
Chiong, who is the acting mayor, said the City Government had purchased the lot for the permanent school site and had also allotted P20 million for its site development, which will include drainage and sewage works, among others.
She added that the relocation of the schools was among the projects identified under the City’s post-disaster needs assessment.
“This barangay (Cantao-an) was not included in the landslide. But because of the tragic incident and after it was assessed to be highly susceptible to landslide, we’ve decided that it was prudent at that time to relocate them,” Chiong said in Cebuano.
The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, on the other hand, will fund the construction of the school buildings that will accommodate 68 classrooms. The project is estimated to cost around P180 million.
For now, classes are divided in the barangay gym and in temporary classrooms built by the City Government.
The mountain barangay of Cantao-an is approximately six kilometers away from the main highway. (RTF)