The Municipal Government of Boljoon identified two areas as potential relocation sites for residents living in landslide-affected sitios in Barangay Lower Becerril.

With the recent call from the Mines and Geosciences Bureau to declare Sitio Calfranco as a “no habitation zone,” Boljoon town officials led by Mayor Merlou Derama want to transfer 36 families to safer areas.

In a press conference yesterday, Derama said a 25-hectare property donated by the Iglesia ni Cristo and a four-hectare property owned by the Archdiocese of Cebu, both just four kilometers from Lower Becerril, are being offered to affected residents as potential relocation sites.

Both sites can accommodate around 200 families and can be accessible to public transportation, Derama said.

But the mayor said they still need to consult with residents if they are amenable to being relocated.

With more landslides still occurring at the barangay, Derama said they cannot allow residents to return to their homes as the ground there remains unstable. But Derama said preparing the relocation sites is a long-term goal.

For now, Derama said they need to address the immediate needs of the affected residents such as food, water and proper roads for them to traverse on.

Following calls from Derama to help those affected by the landslide, Presidential Assistant for the Visayas Michael Dino came to Boljoon yesterday to check on the status of residents in Lower Becerril.

Along with Dino were officials from the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) and Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB).

Personnel from the Central Command’s 53rd Engineering Brigade were also tapped to assist the residents.

After checking the area, Dino instructed DSWD to continue providing food aid to 36 families living in Sitios Camp Franco and Cansiloy for as long as they still live within evacuation sites in the barangay.

Ma. Evelyn Macapobre, DSWD 7 director, said they initially provided food packs and sleeping provisions to the affected families. Macapobre assured that they will continue to provide food packs to families who will continue to live in evacuation sites in the barangay.

Christina Mendez, 58, previously lived in the hillside portion of Sitio Camp Franco, Barangay Lower Becerril in Boljoon.

When barangay officials warned her and 18 other families living there were told that the land is slowly giving way from continuous rainfall, Mendez and her family immediately heeded.

Two days later, her house and that of her neighbors were brought down by a massive landslide.

Mendez told reporters that they knew initially that the ground in their Sitio was unstable, but it was the first time they encountered a landslide like the one that hit their sitio a week ago.

For now, Mendez said she and her family are still living in an evacuation site in the barangay.

Barangay officials confirmed that their village had been hit by massive landslides before. Ma. Patrocinio Castroverde, Lower Becerril village chief, said landslides had hit the barangay before, though not as badl as the recent one.

The municipal government was also instructed by Dino to fast track convincing property owners to donate some of their lots for the construction of a diversion road as the existing Barangay route is still affected by the landslide.

But Derama admitted they found difficulty in persuading some residents in temporarily donating their properties for the construction of a diversion route. Derama said they initially got the commitment of some residents, but they suddenly changed their minds yesterday.

Derama said they plan to meet with these residents and plea for their assistance.

Derama said they are also in the process of fixing the water supply in the area, which have been affected by the landslide. Baltazar Tribunalo, Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (PDRRMO) head, said the Cebu Provincial Government will continue in its recovery and rehabilitation activities in the affected barangay.

Tribunalo said that once they are finished, they plan to conduct capacity building programs for the affected residents, such as pre-disaster preparedness planning and sustainable livelihood programs. | Source: Sunstar Cebu