By John Noel E. Herrera
Some of the 300 families displaced by the Jan 28, 2023 fire in Barangays West Habog-Habog and San Juan, Molo, Iloilo City have started rebuilding their houses after the Iloilo City Government allowed them to return to the site.
But Iloilo City Mayor Jerry P. Treñas stressed that the affected residents should only build temporary houses while the city government still plans for the permanent housing units that will be given to them.
Iloilo City Social Welfare and Development Office (CSWDO) head Teresa L. Gelogo also said that families are urged to rebuild their temporary houses on the fire site, as they only have until Feb 10, 2023 to stay in Baluarte Elementary School and San Juan Elementary School.
“Gina-urge naton sila nga maka-ubra na sang emergency temporary shelter para nga may tiniran na sila,” Gelogo said.
She explained that the fire victims must vacate the schools as students need to return to physical classes.
The Iloilo City Urban Poor Affairs Office (ICUPAO) is also tasked to assist the victims with how they will build their temporary houses using the financial assistance given to them and would supervise them to ensure the provision of access roads in the area.
Last week, all the affected families already received financial assistance worth P15,000 through the Department of Social Welfare and Development’s Assistance to Individuals in Crisis Situation (AICS) program, which was facilitated by Senators Bong Go and Imee Marcos.
The city government, on Tuesday, Feb 7, also released an initial cash aid worth P5,000 for each family whose houses were destroyed and P2,000 for those with partially damaged houses.
Treñas said that the assistance given to the victims would only go to waste if the city government would not think of permanent solutions and would only allow the residents to go back to the area without proper consultation.
As a permanent solution, the city mayor earlier said that the city government will be buying the 1.3-hectare property where the fire happened and will convert it into a low-rise condominium housing project through the Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development (DHSUD).
“We will buy the land, then we will converse with the DHSUD if we can have a medium-rise building built so we can also place better housing there,” he said.
Treñas added that they will make use of the P20-million loan from the Development Bank of the Philippines for lot acquisition of the city’s socialized housing programs.
The city council also earlier passed a resolution appealing for President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s assistance for the relocation of families affected by the fire.
Sen. Imee Marcos, during her visit to Iloilo City, also said that she will relay to the President the said resolution.