More than a decade after ‘Pablo,’ victims finally get new houses

In this photo taken Dec. 7, 2012 and released by the Malacanang Photo Bureau, a swollen river carries mud after Typhoon Pablo (Bopha) hit Compostela Valley, southern Philippines. Rescuers were digging through mud and debris to retrieve more bodies strewn across the farming valley in the southern Philippines by the powerful typhoon. The death toll from the storm has surpassed 500, with more than 400 people missing. (AP Photo/Malacañang Photo Bureau, Jay Morales)

DAVAO CITY—Nineteen families in New Bataan town of Davao de Oro, center of the deadly mudslide at the height of supertyphoon Pablo, finally got the housing units the national government promised them 11 years ago.

The 19 families from Barangay Andap in New Bataan braved the rains during the ceremonial turnover of the houses led by the National Housing Authority (NHA) on Friday, February 24, where each of was given the symbolic key to their new homes built at a cost of P381,000 each.

Anna Jane S. Pedro, 25, was thankful for the opportunity to be one of the selected beneficiary. “Now, these houses are finally truly ours. I did not expect this to be really beautiful, and many of us are amazed.”

Maricel L. Lindaan, 40, also expressed her appreciation for being a beneficiary. “I hope there will another assistance for us, not only this housing but also on livelihood to sustain our needs.”

Aside from receiving the symbolic keys, the beneficiaries also received the Certificate of Award to denote  ownership of their new house.

The Davao de Oro information office said the beneficiaries were among those families who lost their homes at the onslaught Pablo in 2012, one of the first batches of super typhoons in the country, and the second major typhoon to enter Mindanao in the last century.

Acting Provincial Administrator Fatima Montejo, who represented Governor Dorothy Gonzaga congratulated the beneficiaries and explained that the delay in the turnover of the houses was due “to occurrences that must be settled such as processing the legal documents so that they will not encounter any problems in the future and be protected by their rights of owning the residence.”

The NHA has partnered with the Housing and Homesite Division (HHD) of the Provincial Administrator’s Office for the project.

The provincial government said the delay was caused by the search for an appropriate location after the initial site in Purok 5A, where the beneficiaries formerly lived, was declared a danger zone “as the land constantly moves during heavy rains, making it susceptible to landslides.”

Mayor Geraldford Balbin said the final identified site was certified by the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) as a secure area.

The provincial government said each house in the Balai Maal-lag or Mahayag nga Balay offsite housing project has a floor area of 30 square meters with two bedrooms, one bathroom and a kitchen sink. The project has a total cost of P7.2 million.

Barangay Andap was the worst hit barangay when Pablo triggered a mudslide from the Andap mountain burying homes and people along its path. More than 1,500 residents were either killed or missing in the aftermath of the howker, which made a landfall in Davao Oriental, weaving through Davao de Oro before it exited in Agusan del Norte.  The massive deaths and missing in New Bataan alone due to the mudslide made the town the epicenter of destruction of Typhoon Pablo.


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