KIDAPAWAN CITY (MindaNews/ 18 Nov) – Close to 300 families who sought refuge in evacuation centers here due the series of powerful earthquakes last month have returned to their homes starting Friday upon the order of the city government, an official said Monday.
Psalmer Bernalte, head of the City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (CDRRMO), said those who returned belong to Category 1, or those who left because of fear of further earthquakes but that their houses did not incur any damage.
The families under Category 2, or those with houses damaged by the temblors, are entitled to cash assistance of up to P20,000 to purchase construction materials once they leave the evacuation centers, he added.
Data from CDRRMO showed that at least 1,700 families under Category 3 remained at the evacuation sites in barangays Ilomavis, Balabag and Perez, all located at the foot of Mount Apo, the country’s tallest peak.
Category 3 refers to families with destroyed houses that are located in areas declared by the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) as “no build zones.”
Bernalte said they ordered the quake victims belonging to Categories 1 and 2 to return to their houses to minimize the health hazard of staying in makeshift tents.
He said the evacuees are vulnerable to respiratory and digestive problems, among others, if they are exposed to too much heat or rain, and to risks of snakebites.
On Friday, Modesto Bayawan, a lumad inflicted with asthma, had died. His coffin was placed in a makeshift tent at the evacuation center in Barangay Ilomavis.
“If Mr. Bayawan wasn’t inside the tent, he could have lived longer. His illness worsened because he was exposed to hot or warm weather during daytime and cold during nighttime. (The evacuees are also exposed to) the rains,” he said.
Bernalte said the city government allotted P9 million a month to feed the evacuees.
Last month’s strong tremors prompted 2,099 families or 10,145 individuals to evacuate, data showed.
The city government plans to buy 25 hectares as relocation sites for the families displaced by the quakes.
Bernalte said the city government plans to borrow P100 million from the Land Bank of the Philippines to address the quakes’ impact.
Last week, the city council granted Mayor Joseph Evangelista the authority to negotiate a bank loan.
Of the P100 million, half will be allotted for the reconstruction and rehabilitation of damaged infrastructures, 25 percent for the purchase of the relocation sites and the rest for livelihood assistance to those who lost their jobs because of the quakes.