Logs swept by ‘Sendong’ into villages to rebuild victims’ homesBy JB Deveza, Tito Fiel
ILIGAN CITY – Logs, including those that pummeled many victims to death at the height of the flood spawned by Tropical storm “Sendong” here, are now being shaped to provide shelters to survivors.
The effort is being spearheaded by the city government and the non-government organization Ecosystems Work for Essential Benefits (Ecoweb).
Volunteers tapped for the shelter program had started scouring the beaches of villages (barangay) Tibanga, Santiago, HInaplanon and Acmac for logs that could still be formed into lumber.
The lumber would in turn be used to build some of the houses intended for thousands of families, which were left homeless by the flood.
Regina Antequiza, Ecoweb executive director, said that as of Tuesday afternoon, dozens of logs had been recovered and formed into lumber using chainsaws by volunteers.
“What we intend to do is use the lumber for reconstruction of houses instead of them being recovered by unscrupulous illegal loggers,” Antequiza said.
Melvin Anggot, city information officer, said some people tried to bribe officials so they could get the logs that the floods had washed away on December 17.
He declined to identify them though.
“They are illegal loggers and we will pursue charges against them when the situation normalizes,” Anggot said.
Mayor Lawrence Cruz said with the recovery and forming of the logs into lumber, the city government had hoped that the reconstruction of houses on identified relocation sites could start immediately.
“We are moving fast and we want this problem solved soon. We have identified and acquired relocation sites,” he said.
Cruz said based on government figures, there are about 4,000 validated homeless families that were included in the program’s initial phase.
He said there were still thousands claiming to have lost their homes in the devastating floods but their claims were still being validated.
“Some of them appeared to be just pretending that’s why we are validating their claims,” he said.
Cruz said Social Welfare Secretary Corazon “Dinky” Soliman had pledged core shelters for other victims that could not be accommodated in the local resettlement program.
In Cagayan de Oro City, residents of the second congressional district, who were displaced by the floods, may have to spend two more months in the so-called tent cities before they can move to their new homes, which were being jointly built by the government and good samaritans.
Cagayan de Oro City Representative Rufus Rodriguez said the construction of the houses for Sendong victims might be finished in February yet.
The houses were being built on a four-hectare lot in Barangay Gusa and on a 10-hectare area in Barangay Indahag.
Similarly, relocation sites for those who previously lived on the western bank of the Cagayan River had also been identified in the villages of Lumbia and Calaanan, Rodriguez said.
The Jesuit-owned Xavier University had granted the government usufruct rights to its five-hectare property in Barangay Lumbia.
Usufruct is the legal right granted to a person or entity to use and derive profit or benefit from property that either belongs to another person or which is under common ownership, as long as the property is not damaged or destroyed.
Cagayan de Oro City Councilor Nadya Emano said the city has also allocated 9 hectares in Barangay Calaanan for the relocation of Sendong victims.
The property, she said, was part of the 64-hectare area that the city government bought in 1996 for its resettlement program.
Emano said a Filipino-Chinese businessman — who wished to remain anonymous — offered to bankroll the building -– initially –- of 300 houses in Calaanan for Sendong victims.
The businessman has offered to build about 1,000 houses on the property, she said.