CEBU, Philippines — The Cebu Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (PDRRMO) is looking at transforming the disaster at the landslide-stricken areas in uphill Barangay Bereccil, Boljoon, Cebu into a development opportunity.

“I always look at disasters turned into opportunities,” PDRRMO Head Baltazar Tribunalo told reporters yesterday following an inter-agency site inspection in the affected sitios.

He suggested the construction of a water dam that will facilitate the flow of the stream from the mountain area to the open sea.

Rainwater from the uphill runs down forming a natural stream at the foothills.

However, debris and uprooted trees due to a landslide has blocked the flow of the water from the mountain to the sea.

Boljoon Mayor Merlou Derama said that this incident has brought a bad image to the town, which is most likely to become critical, if not addressed immediately.

He shared that this also caused panic from people who has viewed the devastating scenes online.

Derama added that some overseas Filipino workers from the town are also alarmed by the report and have conveyed hesitation to return during the town fiesta.

But he said local officials would strive to resolve the crisis before November 11, the feast day in honor of Nuestra Señora Patrocinio de Maria.

As proposed, he said town officials will work on the relocation site of the affected 38 families from Sitios Camfranco and Cansiloy.

Derama disclosed that Presidential Assistant for the Visayas Mike Dino has assured that the office will initiate the subdivision plan whose structure may stand on the donated properties of the Iglesia ni Kristo (25 hectares) and the Archdiocese of Cebu (four hectares).

Derama said the subdivision may house 200 families.

The Office of the Presidential Assistant for the Visayas and different government agencies yesterday conducted a rapid damage assessment on the mountain barangay, particularly in the affected sitios.

Derama said the affected residents need to be transferred to a safer relocation site that is about three to four kilometers away from the danger zone.

“Para nako, dili na sila angay pabalikon pa,” he said, referring to the evacuees sheltered temporarily at daycare centers, chapels and covered gymnasium.

Tribunalo said the Cebu provincial government may source budget for the relocation of the affected residents from the rehabilitation funds.

He said the provincial government may also tap help from the business sector.

Mandaue Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MCCI) President Glenn Soco and Kenneth Cobonpue, chairman of the Regional Development Council in Central Visayas, yesterday joined the assessment.

Tribunalo vowed that the province will continue to provide the primary needs of the town and assist local officials for the recovery of the damage.

As an intervention, the province will hold capacity building trainings to the town’s disaster and emergency team for them to be equipped in responding to and managing the hazards caused by natural disasters, Tribunalo said.

Derama said he is about to sign the draft resolution that would declare the town under a state of calamity so as to expedite the release of funds for immediate assistance.

Aside from the municipal and provincial aide, the Department of Social Welfare and Development-7 has been distributing family food packs as well as sleeping kits to the evacuees for two weeks already.

A stock pile facility for the relief goods is also planned to be established near the town for quicker transport. | Source:  THE FREEMAN