CAGAYAN DE ORO (MindaNews/17 December) — Over 5,000 displaced families have remained homeless despite the millions of pesos poured by the national government and donors after tropical storm “Sendong” destroyed their houses four years ago.
Ermin Pimentel of Xavier University’s Kristohanong Katilingban sa Pagpakabana-Social Involvement Office (KKP-SIO) blamed “local politics” and the absence of a local government agency to coordinate efforts to provide shelters for typhoon victims.
“There are still more than 5,000 flood victims without decent basic shelters four years after Sendong. That is very sad,” Pimentel said.
Pimentel said the city might lose a grant from the Japanese government to build 722 houses for Sendong victims due to political bickering between Mayor Oscar Moreno and the city council.
He said the opposition-dominated city council has blocked the passage of a resolution allowing the city government to release P27 million to buy a five-hectare land intended for the flood victims.
“The city council composed of councilors against Mayor Moreno have consistently asked for many requirements that we are scared that the Japanese government would take away the grant money,” Pimentel said.
Councilor President Elipe of the opposition Padayon Pilipino Party said the city council is demanding the requirements to ensure that there will be no “overpricing” of the land.
Former mayor Vicente Emano alleged that many residents from Moreno’s hometown, Balingasag in Misamis Oriental, were given houses to the detriment of the Sendong victims.
Pimentel denied this citing the recipients of relocation shelters were those listed by the Department of Social Welfare and Development when Emano was still the mayor.
Emano lost to Moreno in the 2013 elections largely on allegations that the former mayor mishandled the rescue and recovery efforts at the time of Sendong.
Pimentel said 3,824 shelters were built during the time of Emano right after Sendong.
He said another 3, 214 relocation houses were constructed under the present administration.
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources in Northern Mindanao said over 12,000 houses were destroyed when flash floods hit the banks of the Cagayan de Oro River four years ago.
There will be an interfaith prayer rally at Rodelsa Rotunda early Thursday (Dec. 17) to commemorate the 4th year anniversary of tropical storm Sendong that left 1,200 residents of the city dead.
Later in the afternoon, Cagayan de Oro Archbishop Antonio Ledesma will lead Sendong survivors in a mass at sitio Cala-cala in Barangay Macasandig where most of the victims died.
After four years, over 300 victims have remained unidentified lying inside an unmarked concrete vault at the city public cemetery.
Sendong also claimed several lives in neighboring Iligan City. (Froilan Gallardo/MindaNews)