Pro-poor Program and Sendong (Part 2)

The year 2000 saw the creation and rise of the Comprehensive Socialized Housing Program for the Underprivileged and Homeless Citizens of Cagayan de Oro, a program of Mayor Emano more popularly known as Piso-Piso Program, centered around the 67-hectare off-site resettlement in Calaanan, Canitoan.

Up to the present, the development and progress of the Calaanan community, where the Oro Habitat and Piso-Piso are located, continues under the able supervision of the city government.

But in December 17, 2011, Cagayan de Oro City was struck by the unsparing typhoon Sendong. More than a thousand perished and were missing and thousands of families were rendered homeless.

President Benigno Aquino III, during his visit in the city last December 20, 2011, declared Isla de Oro, Consolacion, and Cala-cala, Macasandig as ‘danger zones’ and ordered that residents of these places be not allowed to settle back.

mayor emanoThis presented a dilemma to Mayor Emano inasmuch as the relocation of an overwhelming number of families is no easy task. The victims called and requested Mayor Emano to allow them to return to their homes because of the inconvenience they experienced in the evacuation centers. But the President’s order is absolute and cannot be violated.

“I humbly ask for your forgiveness, that I could not favorably respond to your request. I could not grant your wishes as it would go against the orders of the President. It is beyond my power now,” the mayor stated.

It is at this point that Mayor Emano decided to utilize the remaining area of the city’s property in Calaanan as relocation area. The Calaanan relocation which was then the center of the Piso-Piso Program (renamed Singkwenta-Singkwenta) has, this time, likewise become the center for the relocation of the victims of the typhoon Sendong.

On December 27, the installation of 365 temporary shelters donated by Shelter Box in Tent City 1 and another 120 tents donated by DSWD was completed. This was in Phase 2 within the 67 hectare relocation site established by the Emano administration.

Tent City 1 was able to accommodate 393 families (1,862 individuals) after a very meticulous evaluation and validation conducted by the EMD and DSWD. Those who were house owners and actual occupants (not absentee owners or renters) whose houses were washed out were given priority and thus were the first ones given access to the tents.

Mayor Emano however reminded everyone not to worry as every affected family will eventually be given their own shelter. The beneficiaries who were settled at the temporary relocation received constant and regular aid from the city government, DSWD, non-governmental organizations, private companies, various local government units, and other concerned sectors of society.

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Also installed within the Tent City are function halls, water facilities, baths, laundry areas, comfort rooms, and street lights. The Barangay Council of Canitoan helped out by maintaining peace and order in the Tent Cities through the imposition of curfew hours where everyone, especially the youth, are allowed only to stay out until 10:00 pm in the evening. The Barangay Police of Canitoan implemented and contributed much to this affair.

As of this writing, 726 temporary shelters have already been installed in the three (3) Tent Cities. The City Government is continuing the process of transferring additional Sendong-affected families into the vacant (119) tents in Tent City 2 and Tent City 3.

Since February 2 to February 6, a total of 96 families have been successfully moved to Tent City 2. Most of these relocated families were evacuees from the West City Central School in Carmen, who were given priority to occupy the 215 available temporary shelters.

The authorities at EMD (Estate Management Division) clarified that there was a little delay in the transfer of the families due to the meticulous evaluation and validation for every beneficiary. This is to ensure that those who are prioritized can be relocated accordingly.

The evaluation and validation, it was known, was strictly implemented by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), City Social Welfare and Development (CSWD), Estate Management Division (EMD), National Housing Authority (NHA), and Xavier University.

There is yet no set date for the completion of the relocation of evacuees to their temporary shelters as this will depend on the outcome of the ongoing evaluation and validation process.

The Tent Cities will henceforth serve as temporary relocation while the victims await for their permanent homes now being constructed by the Habitat For Humanity at Phase 3.