Church to help in relocating Benguet evacuees

DOH's DENTAL HEALTH BUS - A dental health bus of the Department of Health parked at the city hall grounds provided dental care as part of the city government's "Health and Wellness Program" for city employees coinciding the observance of Philippine Civil Service Month. ** By Bong Cayabyab

ITOGON, Benguet — The Catholic Church has responded to the call of the municipal government for help in the urgent relocation of evacuees displaced by the landslide during the onslaught of typhoon Ompong.
Itogon Mayor Victorio Palangdan, in a press briefing Friday, said the Social Action Ministry of the church through Caritas-Baguio has reached out to them and informed them of their willingness to shoulder the house rental of the evacuees for six months.
This is pending the identification of the relocation area for those whose houses were completely wrecked during “Ompong’s” onslaught and have nowhere to go.
Department of Social Welfare and Development-Cordillera Administrative Region (DSWD-CAR) Director Janet Armas said they are finalizing the list of evacuees who need to be relocated, which will be submitted to Caritas-Baguio led by Fr. Manny Flores.
She said their social workers will coordinate with the village chiefs to make sure that the owners of the houses where the evacuees will transfer will not take advantage of the situation.
“We are appealing to the house owners to please not to take advantage of the victims,” Armas said.
In a telephone interview, Fr. Flores said they will wait for the list from the government, validate it and go through the procedures.
He said they will help those most in need or those whose houses were totally damaged considering their limited resources.
“We will only augment what the government can give. We want to take care of our needy brothers and sisters,” who were victims of the onslaught of Typhoon Ompong”.
Meanwhile, Mayor Palangdan said the evacuees who are staying at the different schools in the town have to vacate the educational institutions as classes will resume on Sept. 24.
“The problem now is 18 evacuees have already confirmed that they will be returning to Ifugao. Now, the remaining 400, we do not know where to put them,” he said.
As of Friday, some 40 evacuees have confirmed that they are availing of the “Balik Probinsiya” program and will return to their home provinces.
The mayor said makeshift shelters can be donated for the evacuees’ relocation, but the problem lies on where these can be put up.
On Thursday, he said many of the evacuees wanted to return to their houses in Ucab near the landslide area, which, however, is still off-limits and subject to inspection by the environment department’s Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB).
Palangdan lamented that there are no areas safe enough for a relocation site.
He said the municipal government is now also coordinating with government agencies like the Housing Land Use and Regulatory Board and the National Housing Authority for possible available areas for the temporary relocation of evacuees. **Pamela Mariz Geminiano/ PNA

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