ILIGAN CITY (MindaNews/25 January) – President Benigno S. Aquino III today told officials of the National Housing Authority (NHA) to finish all the houses for suvivors of floods brought by tropical storm Sendong last month by June 2012.
“Dapat ipangako nyo na by June 2012, tapos na ang lahat na mga bahay dito,” (You should promise that by June 2012 all houses here should be finished) Aquino said even before he was through with his introductory greetings.
The core shelters for the survivors, who are still staying in evacuation centers and tent cities, will be built through “bayanihan ng bayan.”
The President’s visit coincided with the 40th day since the destructive floods that killed hundreds of people and wiped out whole communities in both cities.
Aquino arrived in Iligan with Vice President Jejomar Binay, Social Welfare Secretary Corazon Soliman and other heads of government agencies to inspect the relocation site for survivors who lost their homes to the floods.
“In Iligan city alone, there were 5,683 totally damaged houses and 16,969 partially damaged homes. Sendong killed 704 persons and there are still 566 missing persons, which can be presumed dead,” said City Mayor Lawrence Cruz.
Cruz said 32 of the city’s 44 barangays were affected and the damage had reached P3.5 billion, but added the agony of those who survived can’t be quantified.
Cruz didn’t mention the total amount of donations received in his speech today but the Iligan City Disaster Risk and Reduction Management Council reported that the city has already accumulated P371.9 million.
The council added that the city has already disbursed P19.5 from its calamity fund as of January 20.
Soliman said that about 1,700 houses will be constructed on 15.9 hectares with a funding of P242 million from the national government and additional financial support from the NHA.
“Each of this house will cost P110,000,” she said, adding, “P70,000 will come from the national government and the addtional P40,000 will come from NHA.”
Soliman also bared that Gawad Kalinga with support from San Miguel Corporation has committed to build 5,000 houses at P100,000 each to be done in phases.
“The Kapuso Foundation also committed to donate 200 houses while UNTV and Cocacola Foundation also commit to build schools for hinterland communities,” she said.
Aside from those in the two tent cities in barangays Tambo and San Roque, there are survivors staying at the 12 evacuation centers of the city, mostly in schools and in barangay gymnasiums.
“What is important for now is that people are united to volunteer for those who are affected,” she said.
Aquino led officials in painting the model house in Sta. Elena to illustrate volunteerism, which he said will hopefully showcase the Filipino’s ability to face challenges.
He also listened to the story of Joan Valdez, a survivor of typhoon Sendong whose three children died when the whole family was washed into the shores of Sta. Filomena.
“President, I held my dead child and recovered my other child’s dead body at the shore near Regs Resort,” teary-eyed Valdez related.
Valdez and her husband were thankful of the government’s 4Ps program, saying it gave them a meager amount for their food while at the evacuation center.
Aquino promised that the national government will also assist in the repair of Mandulog bridge, the water system and schools.
He asked the survivors not to stay again in danger zones, monitor weather reports, and follow orders from authorities to keep them safe. (Violeta M. Gloria/MindaNews)