‘Sendong’ survivors wonder whether they’ll survive quake with rickety resettlement homes
CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, Philippines – “We have survived Sendong but can we survive a quake?” Yehlen Ocampo said as she surveyed the house her family was given recently under a government relocation program for victims of the flash floods unleashed by Tropical Storm Sendong on Cagayan de Oro City in December 2011.
“The walls shake and we fear it will fall apart,” she said, as she pointed to the cracks that have developed on the walls of her house, No. 7 on Block 46 of the Calaanan Relocation site in Cagayan de Oro’s Barangay Canito-an.
Marie Jane Damalan, another recipient of a unit at the same relocation site, said they noticed the cracks on the walls as soon as they moved in a few months ago.
She said things got worse when her family, in a bid to maximize space, drove nails into the walls so they could hang some things on them.
“When we drove the nails, they went through,” Damalan said.
Emmy Lou Masing, whose house stands on Block 36, said when they moved in about three months ago, they hired an electrician to wire their house. But the metal attached to the ceiling to hold the wiring fell.
“We found out that the metal bars were not welded onto the rest of the structure,” Masing said.
The experience was far worse for Delia Relosa, another beneficiary of the housing project built with the supervision of the Department of Social Welfare and Development.
Relosa said a portion of their house’s floor has caved in, indicating the soil underneath it was not properly compacted before the structure was put up.
Another resident said he expected his floor to cave in soon as it moves when they walk on it.
Eliezer Vicente Bañares, project manager of Habitat for Humanity in Cagayan de Oro, said the cracks on the walls of the houses they helped build were a “normal occurrence.”
Bañares said they may have worked around the budget—P110,00 for each unit—but they never compromised the quality of the houses. Nonetheless, he promised to look into the complaints.
Araceli Solamillo, DSWD director for Northern Mindanao, said it was the first time they heard of complaints about the soundness of the houses.
“We will find out if these are true and what can be done about it,” Solamillo said.
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