Is CICC fit for occupancy?

By: Nestle L. Semilla, Victor Anthony V. Silva May 26,2016 - 10:59 PM
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With the onset of rains, fire victims staying at the CICC grounds are exposed to frequent rains and cold winds. Officials are still debating whether to allow them the occupy portions of the CICC. (CDN PHOTO/FERDINAND EDRALIN)

The Mandaue City government is not inclined to allow fire victims to stay inside the Cebu International Convention Center (CICC) even if they are at risk from the harsh elements brought by the onset of the rainy season.

The Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (PDRRMO), on the other hand, said some portions of the CICC might be found suitable for occupancy, but priority should be given to the elderly, children seven years old and below, persons with disabilities, sickly, pregnant women and those whose tents at the CICC grounds are easily toppled by strong winds and rains.

“We have anticipated the rainy season, but we cannot accommodate everybody inside,” said PDRRMO head Baltazar Tribunalo Jr.

Jamaal James Calipayan, executive secretary to the mayor, said the CICC has a strong structure, but there are portions that might fall in case of strong winds or minor tremors.

“We are not keen on lobbying for them to get out of the rain and put them in danger. Naa man gud daghan like ang ceiling (ug) debris nga posible matagak. Mas lisod siya, naay matagakan unya (It would be more dangerous. They might get hit by falling debris or ceilings),” Calipayan said.

He assured that there would be no flooding at the CICC grounds because of a good drainage system.

The CICC grounds have been converted into a shanty town after the provincial government allowed fire victims from Barangays Guizo and Mantuyong to build temporary wooden shelter in the area while re-blocking of the fire site was still ongoing. As of yesterday, there were still about 1,500 families, or about 6,000 individuals, staying at the grounds.

With the onset of the rainy season, health officials have warned that the fire victims would be prone to colds, flu and other ailments associated with the change in weather.

Tribunalo said they have reassessed the safety of the CICC to determine whether it can serve as an evacuation site. He said they expected to come up with a written report today.

“Through the assessment, we will find out which areas are still safe and who are qualified to get inside,” he told Cebu Daily News in a phone interview.

The PDRRMO report would be the basis for the provincial government’s recommendation to the Mandaue City government on the plight of the evacuees, Tribunalo said.

The CICC was badly damaged by the 7.2-magnitude earthquake in October 2013 and was further ruined by Supertyphoon Yolanda one month after, rendering the structure “unfit for occupancy” although some rooms on the first floor were used by police assigned to secure the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meetings last year.

Provincial engineers earlier said the steel skeleton structure is still stable although the building is littered with debris and some of its walls and ceilings have been torn.

Provincial Engineer Hector Jamora said that when the structure was still fit for occupancy, at least 1,500 people can be accommodated at the basement parking area and around 600 can stay at the ground floor, the same area occupied by police officers during the APEC meetings last year.

The Plenary Hall on the second floor, which is inaccessible due to a barricade, can accommodate 1,800 people.

With the onset of rains, Mandaue City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office head Felix Suico assured that they have taken measures to ensure that the fire victims were protected from diseases.

He said the City Health Department holds a clinic inside the CICC every Mondays and Fridays. An ambulance with at least two emergency personnel is on 24-hour standby at the CICC.

The fire victims can also avail of free medical consultations at the City Health and Mandaue District Hospital. Medicines for hypertension, diabetes and colds are also free.

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