THE Cebu City Government will release either today or tomorrow the cash assistance to the fire victims at Sitio Lower Panaghiusa, Barangay Capitol Site.
The number of families affected by last Saturday afternoon’s fire has already reached 30, or a total of 142 individuals, according to the records of the Department of Social Welfare Services (DSWS).
The fire affected 14 houses, 10 of which were destroyed while four were damaged.
The blaze reportedly originated from the two-storey house owned by Luis Lim, 80. A report from radio dyAB, however, stated the fire started from a parked van.
Lim’s wife, Nancy Lim, 69, suffered burns in the left portion of her face, left arm, and in the back. She’s now out of danger.
FO3 Antonio Gonzales, in a phone interview, said investigators pegged the damage to properties at P250,000.
He said most of the structures were made of concrete and wood.
The investigation report made by SFO2 Alberto Jagdon Jr. and his fellow investigator said they still have to conduct further inquiry to determine what caused the fire.
Cebu City Fire Station received a call for help at 6:13 p.m. Firefighters contained the flames from spreading to other houses 39 minutes later.
Gonzales said the fire was finally put out at 11:07 p.m.
The incident was raised to second alarm, meaning all the eight fire trucks were ordered to rush to Panaghiusa. Volunteer firefighters also responded and helped the Cebu City firemen.
As in every fire that struck the city, DSWS chief Ester Concha said those whose houses were destroyed will be given P10,000 cash assistance while P5,000 will be given to owners of damaged houses.
This time, however, Concha told Sun.Star Cebu yesterday that the release of the cash assistance will be made in the presence of the officials of the Philippine National Red Cross, pursuant to the provisions of the Omnibus Election Code.
“Pero sa atoa gihapon gikan ang budget (But the budget still comes from us),” she said.
While the Commission on Elections prohibited the disbursement of public funds starting March 25 this year in line with next month’s elections, funds can be released through the Philippine Red Cross in times of emergencies.
“Should a calamity or disaster occur, all releases normally coursed through the said department (Department of Social Welfare and Development) and offices of other departments shall be turned over to, and administered and disbursed by, the Philippine Red Cross, subject to the supervision of the Commission on Audit,” the law states.
The code prohibits candidates in the upcoming elections or their relatives from directly or indirectly participating in the distribution of goods.
Concha assured that no candidates will take advantage of the distribution of cash assistance.
As to the housing materials, Concha said they are hoping to give it to the affected families the soonest time possible.
She said the fire victims can rebuild their houses in their existing home lots, although it is not yet determined whether the razed area is a public land or privately-owned.
Cebu City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council research and plan head Harold Alcontin said they already conducted a survey on the lot yesterday morning.
They will retrieve data of the lot from the database of the City Government’s Management Information Computer System to determine if it is privately-owned or not.
Offhand, Concha said she was told by Capitol Site Barangay Captain Manuel Guanzon that the lot is privately-owned but no one is staking a claim over it yet.
As of yesterday, Alcontin said the City has started placing portalets and installing lights at the basketball court near the fire site where the fire victims are taking temporary shelter.
There were also tents in the area.