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Don’t go back to danger areas, PNoy says

President Benigno Aquino III has ordered the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) to prevent affected residents from returning to the danger areas in the city following a deadly flashflood spawned by Typhoon Sendong that killed hundreds of people on Saturday.

“Going back to danger areas should no longer be permitted. I want that very clear… (there should be) no settlement in portions already described as extremely dangerous, …like Isla de Oro, and neighboring barangays…,” the President said in a briefing with government officials in this city on Tuesday.

The President arrived in Cagayan de Oro Tuesday morning to assess the damage of Typhoon Sendong and coordinate relief and assistance efforts by the government.

Local officials raised their problems with the President during the briefing particularly on housing for the displaced residents, noting that people couldn’t be staying in the schools for long periods.

Based on recent figures by the local government, there are 8,000 evacuees in Cagayan de Oro City.

In his response, the President said there are 1,000 houses earmarked for Cagayan de Oro by the National Housing Authority (NHA) although he said there is still no estimate for money needed for building new houses.

At the same time, he said the government has a calamity fund that will cover building new houses.

The plan is to permanently relocate people away from danger zones to prevent similar incidents but since it needs time, the government needs temporary shelters, local officials said.

During the briefing, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) said it would provide funds through its core shelter program so that evacuees could permanently stay in new houses to be built for them.

But in the mean time, the DSWD proposed to move the evacuees from schools to bigger grounds to ease the congestion. The DSWD added that it is working with the NHA for temporary shelters before evacuees are relocated to permanent resettlement area.

Temporarily, the DSWD said it would erect tents in wide school grounds and in areas to be identified by the local government in the next two weeks. The long term goal is to remove them from the schools by January, it said.

Local officials proposed that the Upper Balunan near the airport in the city could be used as new resettlement site for the evacuees.

Also, an area in the 42-hectare Upper Gusa near Philstate could also be suitable for relocation, they said.

The DILG identified six danger areas: Sitio Kala-Kala and Sitio Tambo both in Bgry. Makasandig, Isla de Oro in Bgry. 13, Isla Bugnaw in Brgy. Consolacion and Isla Kupa located in Bgry. Consolation.