Cogon Pardo families grateful for aid, worried over shelter
The 113 families that were displaced by the fire that razed 44 homes in sitio Manzanitas, barangay Cogon Pardo in Cebu City last Easter Sunday were both thankful for the city’s aid and uncertain over their fate in the next three days.
Among those displaced were 25-year-old Ann Marie Las Piñas, who is temporarily housed with other victims at the Inayawan Night High School. She said she was “happy for the immediate action” of city officials.
“Di ra ko kabalo kung gaano katagal kaming mag-stay sa eskwelahan, pero one week akong nadunggan. Sa pagkaon, three days. Sa mga susunod na araw, ‘di na sila mag-serve ng food na luto (I don’t know how long we are going to stay in the school but I heard that it was one week. As for food, it’s good for three days and in the next few days they won’t serve cooked food),” she said.
Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama ordered department heads to attend to the concerns of the fire victims through the city government’s “City Hall At Your Doorstep” program.
Rama, who issued the order before leaving for a scheduled trip abroad, said food and clothing should be provided along with checkups, medicines and vitamins by City Hall’s Department of Social Welfare and and Services and the City Health Department.
The mayor also directed Engr. Jose Marie Poblete, chief of the Division for Welfare of the Urban Poor, to proceed with the reblocking of the area in order to widen road access there.
Rama said reblocking should be implemented even if some parts of the two-hectare lot where the houses are located are privately-owned.
“Even if it means exercising the city’s police power, I will insist on reblocking the area,” he said.
Barangay Cogon Pardo chairman Harry Yran said they planned to reblock sitio Manzanitas long before the fire occurred.
READ: 113 families lose homes to noon fire in Cebu City barangay
About 44 homes made of light materials were destroyed and six others damaged by the fire. Damage was estimated to be over P200,000.
“We organized an urban poor group composed of 200 households but the reblocking wasn’t implemented due to the existing structures but, hopefully, with what happened today we can convince the residents to sacrifice so we can reblock the site and avoid another problem like this,” Yran said.
Yran also said the barangay chairperson of Inayawan Lotlot Ignacio is laying claim to some portions of sitio Manzanitas on the strength of a tax declaration they secured.
Yran said he will ask help from the Cebu City Council to decide on the issue.
For now, some fire victims like 42-year-old Victor Viabado are still coping with the trauma of losing everything they owned to the fire.
“Binigyan kami ng temporaryong matitirhan, doon sa eskwelahan. Tapos binigyan kami ng pagkain, tatlong beses sa isang araw.
Nagpapasalamat ako, kaso wala pako kahibaw if bigyan mi ng matitirhan. Didto ra mi, gahulat (We were given a temporary shelter in the school. We were given food, three times a day. I am thankful but I don’t know if we’ll be given someplace to stay. We are only waiting),” Viabado said.
Florita Narvasa echoed Viabado’s concern, saying her husband doesn’t earn enough working for a manufacturing firm to build a house for their family.
“Wa ko kahibaw kung unsa paagi, kung magbigay sila ng balay, ug pila budget (I don’t know how they would help us, if they would give us a house and how much is the budget),” Narvasa said.
Reports that electrical short circuit caused Sunday’s blaze and the warm weather contributed to the fire’s spreading, residents sought city officials’ help by having their homes inspected to determine the state of their electrical wiring./With Silliman University Intern Andrea D. Lim
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