Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Poor CamSur town gets PHP13-M shelter aid from DSWD
By Danny O. Calleja

LEGAZPI CITY, April 25 (PNA) – The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DWSD) has awarded the poor town of Balatan in Camarines Sur an amount of PHP13.3 million for the construction of housing units that will serve as new homes for local families rendered homeless by past typhoons.

Balatan, which is occupied by nearly 30,000 people -- mostly farmers and fishermen, is a fourth class town located along the coastline of Burias Pass, a vast inland sea that separates Masbate’s Burias Island from the Bicol mainland.

The PHP13.3-million grant is for the construction of 190 core shelter units that are environmental-friendly and structurally strong to withstand super typhoons with up to 220-kilometer-per-hour velocity; earthquakes with strength up to Intensity 4; and other natural hazards, DSWD Bicol Regional Director Arnel Garcia based here on Monday said.

The same number of families -- whose old houses in the barangays of Coquit, Duran, Siramag and Luluwasan were totally destroyed by typhoons "Glenda" and "Ruby" -- will benefit from the bounty given by the DSWD under its Core Shelter Assistance Project (CSAP), said Garcia. who recently turned over the check representing the amount to Balatan Mayor Alfredo Bagasbas.

Typhoon Glenda (international name Rammasun), which hit some parts of the country -- including Bicol -- in July 2014, was a Category 5 super typhoon while Ruby (international name Hagupit), which came in December of the same year, was considered one of the worst disasters suffered by the country.

The CSAP is a project that provides typhoon-resistant shelter units to families displaced by typhoons or other form of natural disasters and too poor to reconstruct their homes.

The project is also for families living in areas that are vulnerable to the same form of disasters and needing permanent relocation.

At the same time, the project is aimed at reducing the number of homeless families and providing them structurally strong shelter while developing and promoting at the same time the value of self-reliance among the beneficiaries and their communities.

The implementation of the project involves mobilization of people’s organization, particularly the neighborhood association for shelter assistance (NASA), the local government units (LGUs) and the sourcing of needed materials and other requirements that will contribute to a more effective project implementation.

The CSAP fosters "bayanihan" spirit wherein all family-beneficiaries are united in actively working for the benefit of everyone in their community and whenever they have problems in the family and community, they talk it out and consult the NASA officers to help settle issues, Garcia said.

Since these new homes will be absolutely owned by the beneficiaries, each of the prospective beneficiaries is enjoined to help in the construction works by applying the spirit of “bayanihan”.

“They are moved into extending help to each other toward the proper completion of their new houses and let the project that is forming a new community for them start a lasting unity among themselves,” he said.

The social welfare regional chief explained that each core housing unit assigned to the 190 Balatan families to be constructed by the LGU under the supervision of its Municipal Social Welfare and Development Office MSWDO) will cost PHP70,000.

The local government has acquired a two-hectare lot in Barangay Coquit for the project which would serve as a safer new community for these homeless families.

Apart from the Php13.3 million, the DSWD also released to the Balatan municipal government an additional amount of PHP370,000 which will be given to the housing beneficiaries as food for work support while they render labor in the construction works, according to Garcia.

Each family will receive an amount of PHP1,950 for their labor.

The Camarines Sur provincial government, Garcia said, has also committed to provide a share in the project by shouldering the houses’ inside features such as partitions as well as the painting.

Garcia said the constructions of the 190 core housing units are set to be completed in five months and will be turned over for occupancy to assigned recipients in October, this year.

These housing units, he said, will provide the beneficiaries not just roofs above their heads but the comfort of a decent dwelling point and relief that even during a “super typhoon,” they are in a safe place.

This is not the first time that the CSAP made its presence in Camarines Sur as, Garcia said, in January last year, 200 families in 12 rural barangays of Tinambac town were awarded the same structures worth a total of Php40 million.

In July of the same year, 97 indigent families in eight barangays of San Jose town got their new disaster-proof homes from the same project in a relocation site away from their old abodes along flood and landslide-prone areas while earlier, 178 indigent families in three Goa town barangays got the same housing assistance.

Garcia said the CSAP is not only true in Camarines Sur insofar as Bicol is concerned, as in Sorsogon, 382 housing units were awarded last year in the municipalities of Prieto Diaz and Irosin that are both disaster-prone -- the former being a coastal locality along the Pacific Ocean and the latter sitting near the foot of Mt. Bulusan, an active volcano.

All houses under the CSAP are in permanent relocation sites provided by the municipal government and certified by the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) as a safer place based on its hazard mapping, he added. (PNA) BNB/FGS/DOC/CBD