LGU dangles cash to clear fire debris

LGU dangles cash to clear fire debris
File photo

THE Lapu-Lapu City Government will give cash to survivors of the fire that struck Sitio Santa Maria in Barangay Pusok last Dec. 12. In exchange, they will have to destroy what remains of their burned houses so the City can proceed with reblocking the area.

Lapu-Lapu City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (LCDRRMO) head Nagiel Bañacia described it as a “cash-for-work” setup.

He said the survivors started clearing the debris on Tuesday, Dec. 26, 2023 and they have a maximum of five days to get the job done. The survivors will then be paid P435 per day, which is the minimum daily wage.

He said the initiative will help the survivors recover housing materials that they can recycle and use to rebuild their houses.

“They (fire survivors) could also use the cash-for-work money to buy new house materials,” Bañacia said on Thursday, Dec. 28.

He said more than one person from each household could avail themselves of the program.

Reblocking plan

Bañacia said the City Engineering Office will implement the reblocking plan at the sitio as soon as the clearing operation is completed.

Aside from the road widening mentioned in previous reports, he said the plan also includes leveling the land, and allocating the same land area for each house.

He said the City Government will provide the ideal design for the new houses.

Bañacia said the City will also install water-conserving facilities to help residents respond quickly to fire incidents and prevent extensive damage, such as what happened to the area earlier this month.

Mayor Junard “Ahong” Chan earlier reiterated the City would permit only house owners to rebuild in the area to avoid congestion.

Local officials blamed overcrowding as one of the reasons the fire spread quickly and destroyed so many structures.

Bañacia said they plan to convert the remaining spaces acquired from house owners excluded from the reblocking into community gardens or open spaces, with the owners’ consent.

According to the City Social Welfare Development Office, the fire affected 1,783 residents of Sitio Santa Maria, of which 465 were lot and house owners and 1,318 were renters.

The blaze razed around 300 houses.

Meanwhile, Bañacia said compassion and wisdom should go hand in hand when giving donations.

Bañacia made the statement after some netizens reacted negatively to his Facebook post that reminded donors of the “dos and don’ts” of donations for survivors of the Sitio Santa Maria fire.

In the post, Bañacia advised the public to refrain from giving food that spoils quickly, such as spaghetti, and instead go with fried food, such as fried chicken and lumpia, among others.

He also suggested that the public donate new clothing instead of used clothing that are torn and foul-smelling.

Some netizens criticized the post for being over the top and discriminatory, especially against donors who cannot afford to donate new clothing. Others also disapproved of the food selection, stressing that the LCDRRMO should accept any food donation as long as it is clean and safe and can ease the hunger of the fire survivors.

Bañacia said he understood the negative reactions but stressed that he was only doing his job to ensure the survivors are well taken care of.

He also apologized to those offended by the post.

“Our compassion must have wisdom to provide actual needs of the fire victims,” he said in a mix of Cebuano and English. “Someone called and said I was too picky because the survivors could just wash the donated clothes. I told her they couldn’t even take a bath, let alone have the time to wash clothes. Many were still confused and sad after losing their homes. So in short, our compassion must have the wisdom to understand the needs of the survivors. That’s our job as disaster officers,” he said in a mix of Cebuano and English.

Bañacia said his office has received more practical donations since he posted the reminder, which has already been taken down.

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