Jesuits offer relocation site for ‘Sendong’ victims in CDO; Reds, inmates donate cash

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (MindaNews/27 December) — The city government recently received a Jesuit-owned land to serve as a relocation site for the victims of the flood brought by Tropical Storm Sendong, and cash-donations from even the most unlikely donors—the local revolutionary movement and inmates at the provincial jail of Misamis Oriental.

In a letter to City Mayor Vicente Emano dated December 23, Xavier University president Fr. Roberto Yap said the Jesuit-run school has decided to donate its five-hectare property in upland barangay Lumbia to City Hall to serve as a relocation site for “our sisters and brothers who have lost (their) houses during Typhoon Sendong and cannot return to their previous sites which are flood-prone and with geohazard risks.”

XU’s board of trustees decided to “grant the local government of Cagayan de Oro City, usufruct rights to five-hectares of the university’s property in Lumbia as resettlement site for families whose houses were destroyed during Typhoon Sendong.”

The university also “commits to work with your local government; regional and national government agencies; local, national and international non-government organizations and foundations; and the private sector in developing this relocation site in an environmentally-sustainable way.”

These, the same letter stated, include the “building (of) houses, developing the road, water and electric works.”

“In working to alleviate the sufferings of our fellow Cagayanons and to provide a sustainable future,” the university also committed to aid in “promoting livelihood opportunities” for Sendong survivors.

National Democratic Front-Mindanao, in a statement Monday, said it made a cash donation of P500,000 directly to Emano.

Inmates at the Misamis Oriental Provincial Jail, this city, led by detained NDF leader Wilfredo Mapano also pooled their extra provisions and cash to give to Sendong survivors.

“Among selda ang dakung bahin sa gamay’ng hinabang. (Our cell contributed the most to our humble donation.) Cash amounting to PHp 1,395 and other items such as pieces of soap, toothpaste, toothbrush, medicines, vitamins, usable clothing, shampoo and rubber slippers,” said Mapano.

However, Emano, Vice Mayor Cesar Ian Acenas and city administrator Griselda Joson did not reply to the text messages and calls for their comments.

Meanwhile, an 11-hour drizzle, from 6 p.m. Monday to 5 a.m. Tuesday, forced residents of Isla Bugnaw in barangay Consolacion to hurriedly leave their houses by midnight.

“I was getting worried because the rain showed no signs of stopping,” Clifford Huerbana, a construction worker who lives with his arthritic father, said Tuesday morning.

In his visit to the city last week, President Benigno Simeon Aquino III chided Sendong survivors, mostly informal settlers, in his speech for insisting on building their houses along identified flood-prone areas.

He told the evacuees at the City Central School that by building their homes in geohazard areas they not only endangered their own lives but also that of the rescuers.

According to the geohazard map by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources-Mines and Geosciences Bureau (DENR-MGB 10), Isla de Oro, an island formed by silt in the middle of Cagayan de Oro River, is inhabitable because of its “high susceptibility to flooding.”

The geohazard mapping came after the heavy rains in January 2009 that displaced some 200,000 residents.

Almost all houses in Isla de Oro were ravaged by rampaging flood waters. Most of its residents happen to be recipients of Emano’s informal settlers’ resettlement program, more popularly known here as “Piso-piso” program. (Cong Corrales/MindaNews)