8 evacuation camps remain, almost a month since last big quake

KIDAPAWAN CITY (MindaNews / 29 Nov) – Almost a month since the last big earthquake hit the province of Cotabato, eight evacuation camps in three quake-hit barangays in this city still remain even after the city government has ordered the return of quake victims to their homes.

Mayor Joseph Evangelista, during the inter-agency and multi-sectoral meeting on Friday, said the return of those internally-displaced persons is part of their efforts to decongest the number of evacuation sites in the city.

This as the move to rehabilitate the damaged structures is underway, said the mayor.

“We will complete the rehabilitation efforts the soonest. I want it done immediately because I don’t want any delay in the rehabilitation and reconstruction efforts, just like what is happening in Marawi City and in areas hit by super typhoon Yolanda in the Visayas region,” he stressed.

The city has identified 25 hectares of land near the evacuation camps as relocation areas for quake-affected families.

Evangelista said he will join the team that will conduct ocular evaluation and assessment of the 4.5 hectares earlier identified as relocation site for quake-affected families in Barangay Ilomavis, one of those severely hit by at least four quakes with magnitude 6 and above.

In total, the city needs at least 25 hectares to relocate the 1,700 families displaced by the calamity or whose houses were totally wrecked because of the quakes.

The biggest of which are residents of Barangay Ilomavis with 848 families to be relocated in the 4.5-hectare lot, which was already assessed by the experts as safe from landslides.

Funds for the purchase of these lots would be taken from the P100 million the city LGU is set to borrow from the Land Bank of the Philippines.

Such amount, however, will just serve as a “buffer fund” since the National Housing Authority (NHA) has also allotted some funds for the construction of shelters for quake victims, the mayor said.

Evangelista assured that these sites are still part of the ancestral lands of the Lumads.

“These Lumads won’t be displaced from their ancestral lands. We can’t resettle them far from Mt. Apo because it is a livelihood area for them,” said the mayor, adding that the indigenous people should also be kept close to their house of worship, the country’s highest mountain being sacred ground to them. (Malu Cadelina Manar / MindaNews)