Relocation sites being prepared for victims of storm Sendong

Posted on December 28, 2011

ASSISTANCE FOR relocation were given to storm victims in Northern Mindanao even as international aid continues to be received by the government.

Iligan City yesterday received P241 million for the construction of shelters for 3,459 families displaced by tropical storm Sendong [international name: Washi], a Palace spokesman said, with target completion date set for end-January.

“They have already identified a 10-hectare relocation site in Iligan City. So this money will go to the construction of the core shelter; by core shelter we mean four walls, one toilet, one room,” Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda said in a press briefing yesterday.

Social Welfare Secretary Corazon J. Soliman led the turnover of funds to the local government with Health Secretary Enrique T. Ona and Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio B. Coloma, Jr.

In a 2 p.m. update yesterday, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council has reported 1,249 deaths but has lost count of the missing due to conflicting data at the local level. Damage was pegged at P1.143 billion. About 720,00 persons were affected by the calamity.

Meanwhile, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), in a separate statement, said it has prioritized the funding of shelter projects for victims in Negros Oriental, Iligan and Cagayan de Oro City worth P537.56 million.

The amount is part of the P1.59-billion indicative plan for the early recovery and rehabilitation program and project for victims of flooding in Region 2 (Cagayan Valley) and of the storm in Regions 7 (Central Visayas), 9 (Zamboanga Peninsula), 10 (Northern Mindanao), 11 (Davao) and Caraga.

In a related development, the DSWD and the Department of National Defense through its National Development Support Command, the infrastructure and development arm of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, will begin the construction of 10 bunkhouses for victims which are expected to be completed this week.

One bunkhouse will have 12 rooms with one family per room. The floor area per room is 18 square meters. In addition, the bunkhouse will have a separate kitchen and latrines. The building and its facilities will cost around P350,000, a statement from DSWD said.

In Cagayan de Oro, Xavier University-Ateneo de Cagayan is allowing the use of five hectares of land to the local government for Sendong survivors.

Xavier president Roberto C. Yap, SJ, informed the city government in a letter that the school board has approved a usufruct proposal that will grant part of the university’s landholdings in Barangay Lumbia for use as relocation site.

Mr. Yap’s letter was dated Dec. 23 but was made available to media only on Monday. The site is on an elevated area to get survivors out of harm’s way.

Public transportation from Lumbia, which is the site of the airport or about 10 kilometers from downtown, is, however, not as accessible compared to the calamity-hit areas.

Xavier has also committed to work with the local government unit for the improvement of the area, including road works, setting up of power and water systems, and the creation of livelihood opportunities for the victims.

International help

As this developed, the governments of Thailand and Denmark as well as the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) have joined those from the international community that have expressed sympathy and extended their support to the storm victims.

In a statement released yesterday, the Department Foreign Affairs (DFA) said that the Thai government gave an assistance worth 3 million baht, or $100,000.

The DFA also said that a four-member OIC delegation arrived in Cagayan de Oro on Monday for a four-day visit during which they will assess how to help the affected communities.

The delegation, headed by Director Fuad Ali Al-Maznaee of the OIC Humanitarian Affairs Department, was sent by OIC Secretary-General Ekmelledin Ihsanoglu.

Mr. Ihsanoglu has earlier called on the OIC’s 57 member-states and the international community “to urgently extend all the vital emergency assistance to the affected people in the Philippines.”

Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Rafael E. Seguis said “this is the first time the OIC has dispatched a needs-assessment mission to the Philippines to look into how member-states can help communities in Mindanao that were affected by a disaster of this magnitude.”

The Danish government, for its part, has extended financial assistance worth about P2.2 million through the Citizen’s Disaster Response Center (CDRC), a nongovernmental organization that promotes disaster management among communities in the Philippines.

Carlos C. Padolina, CDRC deputy executive director, said the fund will be used to conduct relief operations for 700 families in Cagayan de Oro and 800 families in Iligan.

“We will be ensuring that those who will benefit are those least served or vulnerable families who really have none and have completely lost their livelihood,” he said in Filipino during a phone interview yesterday. -- N. M. Gonzales and A. E. Barrameda