Palma fire victims still homeless

ALMOST two years after they were displaced by a fire, 75 families living in Sitio Palma, Barangay San Roque, Cebu City are still homeless. 

This, as fire survivors in Sitio Ponce 2, Barangay Carreta are also asking the Cebu City Government to release their financial assistance. 

Representatives of the two fire-affected communities appeared before the City Council during its regular session last Wednesday to ask for help. 

Virgil Utrago of Sitio Palma said they have yet to construct their houses because the lots that were distributed by the Division for the Welfare of the Urban Poor (DWUP) could only accommodate 61 families. 

He said representatives of DWUP went again to the area last Tuesday and informed them that another re-blocking will be done there. 

Records showed that there are 136 families affected by the fire. 

Lawyer Collin Rosell, chief of DWUP, appearing before the Council, said re-blocking was already done in the area after the fire in August 2014.

Due to limited space, Rosell said, not all will be accommodated, which means that not all will be allowed to construct their houses in the fire-gutted area. 

“What happened was, we accommodated first those who originally owned at least 12 square meters of lot,” he said. 

During the re-blocking, the easement of a creek beside the community was recovered as well as the width of the road on the other side. That’s why the area for the residents became smaller. 

Those who don’t have home lots were asked to relocate, but since there was an offer to construct a medium-rise building in the fire site to accommodate all the affected families, most of them waited for the project and stayed in the area. 

Construction

A non-government organization also offered to help the City in the construction. 

But since there was no approved budget for the medium-rise building, Rosell said they’ve asked the remaining families to transfer to its newly-acquired relocation site in Barangay Pit-os. 

Councilor Margarita Osmeña, who chairs the committee on budget and finance, said there was no approved appropriation for the construction of the medium-rise building in the 2016 budget after DWUP failed to consume the P50-million budget last year.

Councilor Nida Cabrera said officials of the non-government organization who is willing to help Sitio Palma want to sit down with the City officials to come up with a solution on the concern. 

They are expected to meet today. 

Rosell said DWUP is firm on its stand to relocate the families. 

Meanwhile, Angelita Natividad of Sitio Ponce 2, appearing before the Council last Wednesday, said they have yet to receive their P10,000 financial assistance after the fire that hit them in 2011. Around 300 families were affected.

Natividad, who first sought help from the Department of Social Welfare and Services (DSWS), was told that in 2011, the City had no available financial assistance for fire victims.
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