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Aquino marks Cory’s 79th birthday in CDO, Iligan

‘CORY YELLOW’ President Aquino and Vice President Jejomar Binay appear to have fun painting a house bright yellow in Bayanihan Village, Sta. Elena, Iligan City, on Wednesday. The country’s top officials visited Cagayan de Oro and Iligan cities to check on the relocation sites for the victims of Tropical Storm “Sendong.” EDWIN BACASMAS

On what would have been the 79th birthday of former President Corazon Aquino, her son, now the President, spent the day rallying people, especially the victims of the most recent natural disaster in the country, to live the spirit of People Power.

In Sta. Elena, Iligan City, Wednesday, President Benigno Aquino III helped paint in “Cory yellow” a house for a family that had lost its home last month to Tropical Storm “Sendong.”

The day also happened to be the 40th day since this city and nearby Cagayan de Oro City were devastated by landslides and flooding.

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“The same spirit that propelled the country to rise from the dictatorship is also apparent in the current task of rising from the tragedy,” Mr. Aquino said.

The President was here to launch a government program to provide homes for Sendong victims, with the help of nongovernmental organizations like Gawad Kalinga .

In a yellow shirt, President Aquino helped paint a model home built on a 16-hectare relocation site here for Sendong victims.

Joanna Valdez, who lost all her three children in the flood that hit their house in Barangay Santa Felomina, said the hope of being permanently relocated in a new house strengthened their resolve

P500 M from SMC

The government’s effort to provide housing for Sendong victims got a big boost yesterday from a P500-million donation from food giant San Miguel Corp. (SMC).

The President witnessed the turnover of SMC’s “symbolic” check from SMC president and chief operating officer Ramon Ang to Gawad Kalinga officials.

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In his speech, President Aquino thanked Ang “in advance for the next four years that you’re putting in the program.”

He said 5,200 houses would have to be built for the homeless here and, so far, 4,200 could be guaranteed, with SMC providing 2,500 and the government, the rest.

He said the government had allocated P300 million for the building of the 1,700 homes by June this year, using funds from the Department of Social Welfare and Development and the National Housing Authority. The balance of 1,000 houses needed would also be built by the government.

He said the relocation site had been properly assessed by the Mines and Geosciences Bureau and found to be “safe and far from danger.”

In Cagayan de Oro City, construction on a duplex-type house in the 12.4-hectare relocation site in Barangay Calaanan finished just in time for the inauguration led by  President Aquino.

More than 700 duplex-type structures for the 1,500 families who used to live along the Cagayan de Oro River will be built away from where the flooding had occurred.

Aquino said the government could not allow people to live in danger zones anymore.

“Let us obey authorities,” he cautioned, referring to heeding storm warning and relocation advice.

The relocation site in Barangay Sta. Elena is about 2.8 kilometers from the city proper and is near a creek and a hill.

Mother’s gravesite

In Manila, Mr. Aquino joined his mother’s former Cabinet members for a Mass at the Manila Memorial Park.

Also present were volunteers of the Yellow Ribbon Movement, the national organization of volunteers who campaigned for President Aquino in the last elections

In a brief speech delivered at his mother’s gravesite, President Aquino also said People Power was working among the victims of Sendong in the cities of Cagayan de Oro and Iligan.

The people at the relocation sites, he said, “are not downtrodden but are helping each other build a better community.”

‘In 5 years, 5 months’

His parents, he said, both believed in democracy and in empowering the people to improve their lives. He said he wanted this empowering democracy to be really at work by the time his term ended “in 5 years, 5 months and several days.”

Yellow flowers covered the concrete tombs of Cory and Ninoy Aquino. Fr Manoling Francisco led the Mass to the hymns rendered by the Madrigal Singers.

One of the President’s sisters, Pinky Abellada, and their aunt Maur Aquino-Lichauco, who came in a wheelchair, were in attendance.  With reports from Bobby Lagsa, Tito Fiel and Ryan Rosauro, Inquirer Mindanao

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TAGS: Benigno Aquino III, CDO, Corazon Aquino, Flooding, Government, Iligan, Landslide, People, Politics, Tropical storm Sendong
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