Chinese reps to visit Davao to extend help to families affected by flood, fire

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 29 Dec) – Representatives from the People’s Republic of China will visit this city after the New Year celebration to extend assistance to families of the NCCC Mall Davao fire victims and residents displaced by Tropical Storm “Vinta,” Mayor Sara Duterte said.

In a press briefing in her office Friday, the mayor said the Chinese have confirmed to visit the city on January 3 while they are still awaiting the schedule of the representatives from the Japanese government who likewise expressed the intention to help the city.

Duterte added that she has no idea how much in financial assistance the Chinese government will give to the city, hometown of President Rodrigo R. Duterte, who served as mayor for 22 years.

The fire incident that reportedly transpired at the furniture section on the third floor around 9:30 a.m. on Saturday took fire fighters more than 24 hours to put out. It left 37 workers dead and one still missing.

Senior Supt. Wilberto Rico Neil A. Kwan Tiu, Bureau of Fire Protection regional director, said that 31 firetrucks, including those coming from neighboring areas of the city, were deployed to put out the fire at 5:15 p.m. on Sunday.

Duterte said the city government will shoulder the funeral and burial of the victims; the Survey Sampling International (SSI) will help match families for livelihood packages with the Department of Labor and Employment; and NCCC will include the children of those who died in their scholarship program.

She said all three parties will extend cash assistance to families but she did not divulge how much for the families’ security.

In a statement released on Friday, NCCC spokesperson and public relations manager Thea Padua said the 660 workers displaced by the fire would be absorbed by other establishments of NCCC. It runs a chain of Choice Mart supermarkets in the city, a mall in Tagum, NCCC Main Davao (Uyanguren), NCCC Centerpoint Matina, and NCCC Panacan.

“As early as the first day of the tragedy, top management already decided that the affected workers would not be displaced and instead would be absorbed in our other operations,” said Padua.

She said the NCCC top management expressed its heartfelt sympathies and deep regret over the tragedy, and pledged to provide needed support to the victims’ families.

Meanwhile, “Vinta” has affected 19,310 families in the city in 25 out of 182 barangays that placed the city under a state of calamity.

During a special session on Christmas Day, the City Council passed a measure allowing the mayor to utilize the remaining 2017 Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Fund (DRRMF) worth P83.4 million for the families affected by the flood.

The mayor said all of the evacuees have already left the evacuation centers, either they returned to their homes or are staying with relatives and neighbors.

She said affected families would get P3,000 each. The 357 families whose homes were totally destroyed will receive another P10,000 and P5,000 for families with partially damaged houses.

Duterte added she is grateful for the outpouring of help extended by foreign governments who expressed the intention to help the government in extending assistance, as well as to the Dabawenyos who volunteered to help in the repacking of relief goods.

Duterte added the city could not have distributed the relief packs to families affected by flooding if not for the support of volunteers and donors.

As of December 28, 2017, the city noted a total of 243 donors for the victims of “Vinta.” (Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews)