Saturday, October 23, 2021

For protection from elements, island requires paperwork

MADRIDEJOS, Bantayan Island—In a meeting held under a tattered tent outside the Municipal Hall last Oct. 22, Madridejos Mayor Salvador dela Fuente asked potential housing beneficiaries to look for lots whose owners would give them the paperwork they needed.

What paperwork? A written assurance that the house to be built by the Islamic Relief Worldwide (IRW) would not be demolished for at least five years.

The IRW wants to build houses with latrines for 139 families in Madridejos, one of three towns in Bantayan Island.

A year after Yolanda, it’s paperwork like this that has contributed to delays in providing safer shelter for Bantayan Island’s residents. Another paperwork-related problem is the absence of titles for many potential relocation sites, which keeps the National Housing Authority (NHA) from buying lots where families may then move.

Local officials also face the challenge of convincing residents in danger zones to move. Some, like those who fish for a living, don’t want to move far from the coast.

At the time of Mayor dela Fuente’s meeting with the residents, only 30 lot owners had authorized their occupants.

The beneficiaries reside in Barangays Malbago, Mancilang and Talangnan, the barangays hardest hit by the storm. Dela Fuente said the IRW intends to build houses for families in other barangays.

If many of the beneficiaries cannot get authorization from lot owners, dela Fuente said he would recommend that the houses be built in vacant lots in Barangay Tarong, located some 1.5 kilometers away from the town center.

Apart from the beneficiaries of IRW, more families in Madridejos need shelter assistance.

Still waiting

Couple Lorna, 67, and Glicerio Daligdig, 68, sat on a bench listening to the discussion between Mayor dela Fuente and the beneficiaries. They lamented they were left out in IRW’s housing project.

The couple lived in Barangay Tugas, in a hut they repaired by their own hands after the typhoon.

Aside from a sheet of tarpaulin they got from the Municipal Hall, Lorna and Glicerio said they no other aid reached them.

“Wa pa gyud mi nadawat bisag piso hangtod karon (We’ve never received a single peso until now),” Glicerio told Sun.Star Cebu.

In neighboring Sta. Fe town, the Municipal Government spent P5 million to buy a 2.3-hectare lot where 215 houses will be built by the Habitat for Humanity and the latter’s two donors.

More than 100 houses have been built in the resettlement site as of third week of October.

While the Municipal Government and Habitat for Humanity have started building houses, the National Government has yet to acquire a lot to relocate families living in the no-build zone along the coast.

Mayor Jose Esgana said that if the National Government wants to speed up the acquisition of lots for the resettlement of residents living in danger zones, it should stop negotiating for lower prices.

Need to move

Esgana said 2,305 houses were identified as encroaching on the 40-meter no-build zone in Sta Fe.

If he had his way, Esgana said, relocation sites should be identified in every barangay, instead of transferring all vulnerable residents to one resettlement site.

For now, residents in Bantayan Island have relied mostly on non-government organizations’ help to fix or rebuild their houses.
But many remain in the no-dwelling zones.

Based on the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (PDRRMO) data, Madridejos needs P923.25 million to meet its shelter needs.

The NHA has yet to say when the construction work can start.

Dela Fuente said there are at least 800 families who need to be relocated because their houses are within the 20-meter easement from the shore.

Among the 16 local government units affected, Madridejos has the highest number of the houses destroyed, with 4,693.

Dela Fuente said 98 percent of his constituents’ houses were destroyed or damaged. The town’s population is around 34,900.

Help received

The town distributed last June the shelter assistance provided by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).

Madridejos received more than P66 million from the DSWD and was the first local government in Cebu Province to get help from the agency.

A total of 7,355 beneficiaries in Madridejos received the shelter assistance. Families with damaged houses received P5,000 each, while families with destroyed houses received P10,000.

Dela Fuente said that Gawad Kalinga (GK) has also built 100 houses in Barangay Tugas. At least 20 families have moved to the area.

Based on the Municipal Social Welfare and Development Office’s report, GK also gave shelter kits to 441 households in Barangay Bunakan.

The Lions Club distributed 217 shelter kits to the families of Barangay Kangwayan. The Philippine Red Cross and Red Cross of Germany provided galvanized iron sheets, nails and tool kits to Barangays Kaongkod, Malbago and Mancilang.

A total of 1,841 households received the kits in these barangays.

Interviewed separately, Bantayan Mayor Ian Christopher Escario said it’s hard to move families to safer ground if the government can’t help them find another source of income.

6,000 families

“Alangan man ako silang pugson just because niingon ang gobyerno. Trabaho sab ko sa gobyerno pero naa sab ko’y gibati ani nilang mga tawhana (I cannot force them to move just because the government tells them to. Yes, I work in the government, but I also know how these people feel),” Escario said.

A total of 15,543 households in Escario’s town received temporary shelter assistance, like tents and waterproof canvass, from different local and international NGOs.

But Escario said at least 6,000 families still need to be relocated.

Relocation sites were identified in Barangays Sillon, Patao and Sulangan, with help from NGOs.

Land in Barangay Kampingganon was reserved for the NHA to build houses; it has reportedly reserved P880 million for Bantayan alone.

But, just like in Madridejos, the NHA still has to start building these houses.
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