CEBU City Mayor Tomas Osmeña assured the displaced workers of fire-torn Metro Ayala that the City Government will provide them with assistance.
In a Facebook post dated Jan. 7, the mayor said that the City’s Department of Manpower Development and Placement (DMDP) will assist the employees in finding new jobs.
“Gaisano’s management will absorb as many as possible in their other stores, but we will make sure everyone is taken cared of,” reads a portion of the post.
Hours prior to his announcement on his official page, Osmeña sent SunStar Cebu a text message at 3 p.m. yesterday on the assistance City Hall might extend to the displaced employees.
“We will consider positive assistance in the amount Metro paid the City in the form of business taxes last year,” he said.
In a separate interview, City Treasurer Veronica Morelos said she will check today the records as to how much Metro paid in business taxes last year.
This will not be the first time the City Government has extended help for mall workers displaced by fire.
In a post last night, Osmeña announced that the fire has been successfully reduced to embers, but the mall will remain closed until it is confirmed out. He said that firefighters are still unable to fight from inside the building because of the danger of collapse. They are working as fast as possible, but what’s important is that everyone is safe, he added.
“The building has suffered irreparable damage and will most likely be demolished,” he said in his post.
Fire in 2011
Before this, one of the largest store fires to hit the city was that of Gaisano South Capital in December 2011.
The blaze damaged P20 million worth of property and also affected some 1,000 direct-hire and agency-based personnel. Its tenants had 800 employees, including sales and office staff, security guards, and utility workers, among others.
At that time, former mayor Michael Rama had directed DMDP to conduct an inventory of the employees and come up with a special activity for them.
In this case, Mayor Osmeña thanked the neighboring local government units and private groups and individuals who extended aid for the firefighters and emergency responders in the Metro Ayala area.
Last Saturday, hotels around the Ayala Center Cebu distributed packed meals and drinking water.
The management of Metro Retail Stores Group Inc. led by Jack Gaisano also gave responders and firefighters food and water since the fire broke last Friday night.
In a Facebook post dated Jan. 7, City Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office chief Nagiel Bañacia said several groups also dropped meal packs at their incident command post at the ground floor of the Ayala terminal.
Also yesterday, Bañacia lifted the haze alert in the city.
A haze alert was issued last Saturday morning due to the thick smoke that streamed from the fire scene.
Bañacia said that so far, they have not received reports of residents of nearby barangays suffering from respiratory problems due to the haze.
“Perhaps its because our City Health Department was quick to distribute masks to our residents, that’s why we were able to prevent any health issues,” he said.
The Department of Health (DOH) 7 will coordinate with the Cebu City Health Department in monitoring any health-related cases that may arise because of the haze caused by the fire in Metro Ayala.
Dr. Jaime Bernadas, DOH 7 director, told SunStar Cebu that his office will also be coordinating with the Environmental Management Bureau 7 to measure changes in air quality. (With reports from JKV)