CEBU, Philippines – The two sitios hit by huge fires in Cebu City and Mandaue City last Monday afternoon have been declared under a state of calamity.

In Cebu City, the city council placed Sitio Mahayahay 2 in Barangay Calamba under a state of calamity due to the fire that destroyed 218 houses, leaving 309 families affected.

The declaration allows the city government to release calamity funds for the immediate assistance of the 1,355 individuals.

It was Councilor David Tumulak, chairman of the committee on public order and safety, who sponsored the resolution calling for the declaration of the state of calamity.

The Division for the Welfare of the Urban Poor is now negotiating with the private lot owner in the fire-affected area so that the 309 affected families can temporarily rebuild their homes.

DWUP head Meriam Consuelo told reporters they are now identifying city-owned properties where those affected can build their houses permanently as most of government-owned property is already fully occupied.

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She said their last resort is to convince the private lot owners to sell their property to the city.

DWUP is still trying to identify how many affected families built their houses on private property.

Cebu City Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office head Nagiel Bañacia said they are going to put up cistern tanks in the area so fires can easily be put out.

“First, mag-install ta didto’g mga water tanks. Duol raman to’s gym. Butangan og cistern tank. Then butangan og water pump. We will install also dry hydrants along sa nasunogan,” he said.

He added CCDRRMO personnel will train the residents in firefighting so they will know what to do during fires.

As to the immediate assistance of the city, Department of Social Welfare and Services distributed packed meals. DSWS head Lea Japson said they are validating the list of the affected families for the releasing of financial assistance amounting to P20,000.

Barangay Calamba Secretary Raul Laborte said the barangay is still waiting for the certified data from the DSWS because some people were allegedly listed even though they were not actually affected by the fire.

Families who lost their homes are set to receive at least P20,000 each, while home sharers and those who were merely renting will receive P10,000.

As of now, the homeless are temporarily relocated at the barangay gymnasium and barangay hall.

In Mandaue City, officials of Sitio Lower Malibu in Barangay Subangdaku also declared a state of calamity after the fire that destroyed 236 houses.

Barangay Captain Ernie Manatad said they will submit their resolution to the Mandaue City Hall. He also said that the city council assured him of the release of the initial amount of P50,000 for the purchases of immediate response items, reconstruction expenses, and also for the food for the evacuees in the San Roque Gym for three days.

Manatad added the city will give P10,000 to families that owned homes and P5,000 for families that merely boarded or shared homes.

Many of those left homeless opted not to say in the gym and preferred to live in shanties on the fire site.

“Sila ra man sad ganahan nga dili mobalhin kay basin kung ato dad-on didto mobalik ra gihapon sa area ug tua man sad didto ilang trabahoon but we really need them. Bayanihan lang ba,” Manatad said.

According to Senior Fire Office 3 Arnold Lau, the fire started due to electrical misuse in the second floor of the house of Juana Racan.

“Mao wala nabantayan kay naa man sila tulo sa ground floor kuyog sa iyang bana ug anak tua sa sala,” he said.

However, a resident in the area said they also heard it also caused by a cooking fire left unattended.

“Diri sa silingan kay nag lung-ag man to unya gibiyaan mao to didto na nagsugod,” she said. (FREEMAN)

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