Many Yolanda survivors still reside in tents

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Thursday, April 24, 2014

CEBU -- Five months after Super Typhoon Yolanda struck, more than 100 families in the island-barangay of Hilantagaan in Bantayan, Cebu still live in donated tents.

Many schools in northern Cebu also await repair.

Dr. Victor Yntig of the Department of Education (DepEd) Central Visayas told the Cebu Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (PDRRMC) Wednesday that funds have been allotted for the rehabilitation of schools but work will start next month yet.


Provincial Board Member Celestino Martinez III, representing the fourth district, said the DepEd should complete the repair of schools before the start of classes in June.

Meanwhile, former mayor Alfredo Arquillano of San Francisco in Camotes lamented the disparity in the amount of assistance given to Yolanda survivors in the islands and those in mainland Cebu.

The typhoon, which pummeled the Visayas last November 8, left 638 of the 800 houses in Hilantagaan either damaged or destroyed.

Recovery woes
RECOVERY WOES. More than 100 families in the island-barangay of Hilantagaan, Bantayan remain in temporary shelters as they do not have enough funds to rebuild their homes and housing assistance from the National Government has yet to be released. (Sun.Star Cebu photo/Alex Badayos)

Hilantagaan Barangay Captain Roger Segovia said 163 families still sleep in tents, awaiting shelter assistance.

“Rebuilding houses remain our biggest challenge,” Segovia said in an interview last Sunday, adding that most of the typhoon survivors in the island depends only on fishing for income.

Aid continues to come, however, with a Japanese organization adopting a sitio and pledging housing materials for 87 families. The group also promised to provide materials to rebuild fishing boats, Segovia said.

Another non-government organization, the Investment and Capital Corp. of the Philippines (ICCP) Group Foundation Inc., embarked on a yearlong rehabilitation plan for the 700-hectare island, which is part of the northern town of Sta. Fe in Bantayan Island and is home to 4,700 people.

School repair

The group recently completed the repair of damaged buildings in the barangay's elementary school, and will soon start the rehabilitation of high school buildings.

Oxfam International provided laborers for the repair of the classrooms while the ICCP provided the materials.

Segovia said not all residents received galvanized iron (GI) sheets and other forms of shelter assistance from donors.

The absence of power supply, a problem residents faced even before the typhoon, is making it even more difficult for residents to recover.

Residents have to rely on generators and solar panels for electricity, but not all can afford to have these. Hilantagaan is located about 20 minutes away by boat from mainland Bantayan.

Segovia hopes the plan of a non-government organization to install a generator set big enough to supply power to all households will materialize.


Earlier, ICCP Group Foundation Inc. president Richard Albert Osmond said the group will sit down with officials of the Bantayan Electric Cooperative to discuss ways to provide power to the barangay.

The ICCP, an investment banking institution and property developer, operates the 70-hectare Cebu Light Industrial Park in Barangay Basak, Lapu-Lapu City.

Aside from houses, the barangay hall and other public structures have yet to be repaired.

Officials await the financial aid promised by the Department of Health and the Department of Interior and Local Government for the repair of the barangay hall.

Segovia said the repair of the building will cost about P600,000. They also need P80,000 to repair waiting sheds.


In need of more income, the barangay is pushing for tourism projects. Segovia said the Municipal Council is deliberating on a proposed project to develop the barangay's 100-meter sandbar.

Tourists from Bantayan mainland visit Hilantagaan for its long sandbar. Barangay officials collect P200 per boat from tourists visiting the island.

Officials also intend to develop two caves and promote two marine sanctuaries to attract more visitors.

The devastation wrought by Yolanda has taken a toll on tourism in Bantayan Island, which is composed of three towns: Sta. Fe, Bantayan and Madridejos.

Arrivals down

In Sta. Fe, the island's main tourist destination, Mayor Jose Esgana estimated the decrease in tourist arrivals during the Holy Week at 30 to 35 percent.

Fewer than 300 rooms are available for tourists in the town from the usual 350, as some resorts are still repairing damaged facilities.

Esgana, during an interview with reporters last Friday, said it may take three years before the town's tourism sector can fully recover, even with the help of the National Government.

The ICCP is also implementing livelihood projects like skills training on fish processing, organic farming and vegetable production to help residents earn more.

Apart from rehabilitating structures and helping typhoon victims get back on their feet, the group also aims to address the lack of facilities in schools, ensure environmental protection, make health services more accessible to residents and implement sanitation-related projects like putting up communal toilets.


During the PDRRMC meeting on Wednesday, Martinez said some local government officials in northern Cebu asked if the DepEd would reimburse the amount they spent on repairing some schools.

Yntig said he will ask the Department of Budget and Management if the funds allotted for the repair of schools can be used to reimburse local government units.

Some non-government organizations, like the Ramon Aboitiz Foundation Inc., Aboitiz Foundation and Hilfswerk Austria International, poured in funds to help rebuild and rehabilitate schools in northern Cebu that were damaged by typhoon Yolanda.

During the PDRRMC meeting, National Housing Authority (NHA) 7 supervising engineer Constancio Atiniero said the agency allotted P250,000 as housing assistance for Yolanda survivors in mainland Cebu but only P2,500 per family in Bantayan and Camotes Islands.

The information generated a reaction from Arquillano who attended the PDRRMC meeting set by Cebu Gov. Hilario Davide III.

Titled lots

Resettlement of typhoon survivors and families who live in danger zones in Bantayan and Camotes also remain uncertain as the Commission on Audit requires that government can only purchase titled lots. Resettlement sites have to be purchased by government to ensure that occupants would not be kicked out later.

Bantayan and Camotes Islands are protected areas and cannot be titled.

NHA 7 Director Gavino Figuracion said they can also assist in the land development of resettlement sites.

The Municipal Government in San Remegio identified two relocation sites for Yolanda survivors and danger zone occupants but does not have enough funds to prepare the areas for development.

Figuracion said it would take 45 days to conduct a detailed engineering of the two-hectare relocation site in San Remegio and about 320 days to develop the land and build 300 houses.

The PDRRMC meeting was set to update and prepare Davide and Task Force Paglig-on chief Baltazar Tribunalo for a meeting with Presidential Assistance on Recovery and Rehabilitation Chief Panfilo Lacson on Friday in Manila. (Sun.Star Cebu)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on April 24, 2014.

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