Over 100 Sendong survivors still reside in danger zones nine years later

ILIGAN CITY —– Nine years after tropical storm Sendong snuffed out thousands of lives and destroyed thousands of million pesos worth of properties in Iligan City, over 100 survivors are still living informally in areas declared as danger and no-build zones.

The city government of Iligan broke ground for a relocation site four years ago  but until now, not a single house has been built in the P35-million peso site in Barangay Tipanoy.

Survivor Mercy Antoque said some 95 families in her barangay are still living as informal settlers in the same area where flashfloods washed them out early dawn of December 17, 2011.

Although they have been advised that the area has been declared a ‘danger zone’ they have no other choice but to stay.

Gusto gyud unta nako nga makabalay mi sa luwas nga dapit kay kada higayon nga mo-ulan, dili mi makatulog, mabalaka mi permi kay basin og magbaha napud, wala pa gyud nawala ang among trauma anang baha,” Antoque said. (We wanted to have a house in a safe place because every time it rains, we cannot sleep worrying about flood waters which have left us traumatized).

Amor Bado, whose then four and three-year old sons died and whose father in law remains missing, is still living in their house where memories nine years ago are still fresh.

Every year when she attends the commemoration, she cannot hold back her tears even if she already has two other sons born after the flood. 

“Dili gyud malimtan. Murag gahapon ra nga nakit-an ilang lawas nga nalubong sa lapok, wala nay kinabuhi. Magbalikbalik sa akong memory katong pag gakos nako nila nga dili na sila molihok,” Bado said. (It cannot be forgotten. It seems only yesterday when their remains were found buried in the mud, and they were no longer responding when I hugged them.)

Although she wants to transfer to a safer shelter site, Bado said she will wait for the LGU to advise them since she was already profiled by the City Social Welfare and Development (CSWD).

On Wednesday night (December 16), around 50 Sendong survivors gathered along the highway of Barangay Hinaplanon, near the Mandulog Bridge, where flood waters with muds and boulders swept away houses and other structures to the sea.

The candle lighting commemorated their loved ones who are still missing to this day with signs of “9 yrs Sendong” addressed to the local government which seems to have forgotten them.

Acmad Musa, president of Iligan Survivors Movement (ISM), said they are calling on the government to fulfill their promise to give his fellow survivors safe place to settle.

The ISM is an organization of around 5,000 Sendong survivors. While most of them are living in a relocation site, many still remain in their old houses in identified danger and no build zones by the LGU.

“I was relocated. I am now living in the Bayanihan Village. But I have my fellow survivors who are still waiting to be relocated,” Musa said.

Housing sites 

Rey Roque, head of the City’s Housing and Resettlement (HRO), said more than 10,289 families have been identified by the Beneficiary Selection Committee (BSC) of the local government unit to be provided with housing.

So far,  5,993 units in 13 relocation sites have been constructed which are now occupied  by their intended beneficiaries. 

The biggest site is Bayanihan sa Iligan Village in Barangay Sta. Elena which has 1,619 completed units. The houses were built by volunteers from Gawad Kalinga, Habitat for Humanity, some private organizations and LGUs from other places.

The San Miguel Corporation funded the construction of the houses now occupied by their beneficiaries.
However, only 1,597 units are being occupied since the 22 remaining lots are not viable for settlement according to Roque as per assessment of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB).

The remaining 4,296 units to be constructed are to be funded by the LGU.

“We will prioritize those families living in the areas identified by the MGB as danger and no build zones. There are more than 2,000 of them,” Roque said.

City Engineer Eleonor Actub said 40 duplex units are now being constructed in Sitio Mirador in Barangay Tipanoy to be occupied by 80 families.

“This is already at the level of the BAC (Bids and Awards Committee). The construction shall start once the winning bidder receives the notice to proceed,” Actub said.

Roque said the HRO has started receiving applications of interested survivors to avail the of the housing in Mirador, Tipanoy.

“Katong mga interesado nga mopuyo gyud kay ang uban nga gihatagan na og balay, ilahang gibaligya or gipa-rentahan. Maong daghan og gikasuhan ang LGU, naa na sa korte. Kay duna man silay gipirmahan nga kontrata nga dili nila ibaligya or parentahan. Kung dili sila ganahan mopuyo, ilahang i-surender balik sa LGU para ihatag sa uban,” Roque said.