Red Cross to build 1,000 homes on Jesuit land
The new year is expected to bring hope and new homes to some 1,000 families displaced by Tropical Storm “Sendong,” with the Philippine Red Cross (PRC) offering them the opportunity to literally rebuild their lives.
“It will be a family to a house which they themselves will help build,” PRC secretary general Gwendolyn Pang said Saturday. The evacuees need not spend for their new homes which are expected to rise in six months.
On Thursday, PRC chairman Richard Gordon and Xavier University chairman Elpidio Paras led the groundbreaking rites at the resettlement site. Gordon said it was the first partnership between the private sector and the PRC in building homes for families displaced by Sendong.
Gordon said the Red Cross would build 1,000 shelters, initially, as soon as the land was ready with basic services and provision for livelihood.
Pang pointed out that each single detached house, with an area of 24 square meters, would sit on a 40-to 50-sq. m lot on a 5-hectare property in Barangay (village) Lumbia, Cagayan de Oro, donated under usufruct rights by the Jesuit-owned Xavier University.
Usufruct is the legal right granted to a person or entity to use and derive profit or benefit from a property that either belongs to another person or which is under common ownership, as long as the property is not damaged or destroyed.
Ownership after 15 years
“They (evacuees) do not have to pay to live in those homes. They only have to pay for utilities like water and electricity,” Pang told the Philippine Daily Inquirer.
The PRC secretary general said that although the property would still be owned by Xavier University, ownership could be transferred to the house dweller after 15 years of occupying the lot.
“Families would be provided basic materials for constructing the houses but it would be up to them how they would want their homes to look,” she said.
Evacuees are currently staying in 20-sq. m tents on the property donated by the university.
Livelihood programs will be introduced to the community after the families have settled. “If they want to, they could create an association among homeowners and get fees from members so they could maintain their community,” Pang said.
Conrad Navidad, shelter cluster facilitator at the department of social welfare’s command center in Xavier University, said tents had been erected since yesterday at the relocation site in Barangay Lumbia.
For now, some 350 families can be accommodated in the relocation site. The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and the city government will choose the families who will be allowed to stay there. The families who are staying in public schools, as well those in danger zones like Isla de Oro and Barangay Cala-Cala will be given priority.
But Navidad said only 2 ha of the Xavier University-donated land would be allowed for occupancy for now. “The evacuees will not be forced to settle there if they do not wish to do so,” he said.
This week, the evacuees will be brought to the area for a “go-and-see” visit.
Other relocation sites
Apart from the 1,000 beneficiaries of the PRC’s housing project, Cagayan de Oro City Representative Rufus Rodriguez said the construction of houses for Sendong victims on a four-hectare lot in Barangay Gusa and on a 10-hectare area in Barangay Indahag might be finished in February.
Relocation sites for those who previously lived on the west bank of the Cagayan River have also been identified in Barangays Lumbia and Calaanan, Rodriguez said.
The city has also allocated nine hectares of property in Barangay Calaanan for the relocation of typhoon victims, Cagayan de Oro Councilor Nadya Emano said.
The property, she said, was part of the 64 ha 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.
In Iligan City, Teresita Ragasajo, 71, whose family lost their house and minigrocery store from the flood brought by Sendong, said they have enough food and clothing assistance. “What we need is a house so we can start a new life,” she said.
With her husband still missing, she hopes to rebuild their livelihood along with the only child who stays with her who is also searching for a missing husband and daughter.
Ragasajo dreads the thought of going back to Bayug Island where she raised five children with husband Arcenio since 1959.
Santa Elena village
At the start of the year, the local government hopes to address the housing needs of the evacuees. Underway is the building of a 15-ha subdivision in Santa Elena village where some of the flood evacuees will be resettled.
The land is owned by National Steel Corp. (NSC), which is under receivership. The local government hopes to acquire the land through a “dacion en pago” arrangement to settle some of NSC’s outstanding tax liabilities.
On Thursday, a team of geologists from the Mines and Geosciences Bureau said the site was suitable for housing because it was free from geohazards.
On Friday, the local government’s Housing and Resettlement Office convened a team of design engineers and architects to come up with a subdivision plan.
City information officer Melvin Anggot said the subdivision plan was expected to be completed within a week, along with other legal requisites like the housing and land-use clearance and Philippine Coconut Authority clearance to cut coconut trees in the covered area.
Permanent solution sought
Earlier, Mayor Lawrence Cruz said any relocation effort must be “a permanent solution” to the housing needs of the evacuees.
The resettlement plan will be based on the core shelter standards set by the DSWD—a house with a floor area of 60 sq. m on 80-sq. m lot. The DSWD funding assistance is based on a cost of P70,000 per housing unit. For each unit, the Iligan local government will provide an additional P30,000 “to ensure these would come out decent,” said Anggot.
Several groups like Gawad Kalinga, Habitat for Humanity and EcoWeb have been identified as possible partners in building the houses. EcoWeb has started producing lumber out of the “killer logs” along the Iligan coast.
UP geohazard map
Anggot said the results of a geohazard mapping done by the University of the Philippines’ National Institute for Geological Sciences would guide the local government in declaring areas as “no-go zones” for settlements.
Those who were left homeless by the flood and come from these geologically hazardous areas will be prevented from settling back there and would be told to resettle, Anggot added.
Hit hard by the flood were the villages of Santa Felomina, Upper Hinaplanon, Hinaplanon Proper and Santiago.
Anggot said families whose houses were “totally washed out” and who used to live in geohazardous areas would be the priority for relocation.
Apart from the Santa Elena land, the local government is considering other relocation sites, such as a 2-ha lot in Santa Felomina village and an 8-ha property owned by NSC in Suarez village.
As of December 29, the City Social Welfare and Development Office counted 4,385 “totally damaged” houses in 28 barangays as a result of the flood. About 10,817 more houses were “partially damaged.”
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