DENR rejects tent city as housing site

February 14, 2010 at 9:00 pm Leave a comment


By Yolanda Sotelo

ROSALES– It may still take some time before flood victims in this town who are temporarily residing in tents, finally find a home they can call their own.

About 400 families are living in tents (donated by Shelter Box Trust, an international charity organization through Rotary Club Baguio City ) in San Pedro West village after their houses were destroyed by the massive floods in October 2009

The local government has partnered with different organizations for a low-cost housing project at the place they call “ Tent City .”

Ironically, the area has been declared unfit for housing by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources’ Mines and Geosciences Bureau because it is flood-prone, according to Mayor Ricardo Revita.

The local government has asked the DNR-MGB to reconsider its decision, saying the flooding in October last year was “extraordinary.”

“San Pedro West was flooded but the water was only a foot deep. If they will declare the village as flood-prone, they might as well declare the entire Rosales as unfit for housing as the entire town went under water,” Revita said.

The local government is running against time to establish a housing project because the tents can last only from six months to one year.

The tents will eventually disintegrate because of exposure to heat and other adverse weather conditions.

Rosales government is eyeing a site in barangay Palakipak where the Habitat for Humanity can build 190 low-cost housing units.

It has also bought a two-hectare lot in barangay Balingcanaway (using the P700 thousand donated money during the flood and P1.5 million LGU fund) where the Red Cross will build 300 temporary housing units for the victims.

While waiting for the housing projects, the flood victims have to make do with tents in the tent city where the tents stand almost wall to wall.

The tent city looks like any other community — there’s a paved courtyard where children can play, sari-sari stores are in almost every corner, patches of vegetable gardens are growing, women are washing their clothes around artesian wells.

There are 400 families who call the tents their home. Each of the 184 tents can accommodate 10 persons, so at least two families share a tent.

“Like a jamboree,” the residents, who claimed they are happy despite their cramped “houses,” call their place and their plight. Nighttime are happiest when most residents gather around two television sets in the courtyard to watch news and telenovelas, they said.

It helps that the residents are relatives and former neighbors atop or beside the dike along the mighty Agno River in Carmen East and Carmen West villages.

“We were neighbors, and many of us are families, so we get together well,” Salve Gutierez, 39, mother of two little children, sad.

The residents said they will forever be grateful to the kind-hearted persons and well-meaning organizations who gave the tents and other materials.

The local government has provided them with sources of potable water and electricity (although they can’t have power connection inside the tents). Sanitary latrines and bathing areas were established for their use and their garbage are collected daily by the local government.

Donors provided them with basic needs like food and pieces of clothes and slippers; and things that make life a little comfortable like foam mattresses and bed pans.

“We are very thankful for all the help we are receiving. We escaped the flood with only our clothes on our back. Our clothes, cooking wares, our houses, were all gone. We had nothing and many people came to help. We will forever be grateful,” Rhoda Reyes, a mother of three young children, said.

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Entry filed under: News.

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