3,000 families still without permanent homes 2 years after Zamboanga City siege
ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines – Two years after followers of Nur Misuari laid siege to the city, over 3,000 families here are still without a house of their own.
Zenaida Arevalo, the director of the Department of Social Welfare and Development in Western Mindanao, said these families – who also lost their homes during the month-long rampage that resulted in the deaths of some 300 people – have continued to stay in 12 transitory sites.
Arevalo said she could not explain why the families had not moved into permanent shelters yet.
“Better ask officials of the National Housing Authority because it is the one constructing the permanent houses,” Arevalo suggested.
Engineer Reynaldo Bolay-og, an NHA supervising engineer, admitted that the construction of some permanent housing units have not even started yet, such as in the case of structures planned for Rio Hondo village.
But he said some 8,000 units currently being built could be completed by year’s end.
For some internally displaced persons, they could not wait any longer.
Ramada Jose, a cluster head for the IDPs, said those who managed to raise money on their own have constructed their own houses so they could get out of the transitory sites fast.
Abdel Abdulla, another IDP, said the situation in the transitory sites was no different from their situation at the grandstand, where they stayed for months.
“We still don’t have water and electricity and we still get wet when it rains,” he said.
Rodrigo Pagotaisidro, the city housing and land management division officer, said the situation was not as serious as before.
He said six areas with permanent housing units had already been occupied.
“Members of the homeowners association in Paniran, Martha, St. Peter, portions of Mariki, Lustre and Islamic village in Sta. Barbara had already moved into their permanent shelters and we expected more families moving out of the transitory sites very soon,” Pagotaisidro said.
Mayor Ma. Isabelle Climaco-Salazar also said life was gradually getting better for the IDPs.
She said so far, 30 percent of the families displaced during the siege had already been provided permanent homes and the remaining number could resettle in their new houses in the next few months to come.
Salazar said some permanent houses were built without sanitation facilities.
“There are permanent houses that are made available but the city cannot just accept them unless sanitation facilities are built,” she said.
As for Ramada and other IDPs, the question remains: When exactly can they move into their new homes?
Officials, like Salazar, could not provide a definite date.
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