Fate of fire victims in limbo
(The Freeman) - December 7, 2018 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines — The administration of the University of the Philippines-Cebu (UP-Cebu), which owns the fire-stricken lot in Purok 3, Barangay Kamputhaw, Cebu City, has yet to make word whether or not it would allow the area to be reblocked.

As the fate of close to 200 families remains uncertain, Cebu City Hall’s Division for the Welfare of the Urban Poor (DWUP) yesterday promised to negotiate with the school management to allow reblocking the fire-hit village.

The FREEMAN tried to reach the office of UP-Cebu chancellor Liza Corro yesterday but was told she was not around. In an earlier report, she was quoted as saying that she was only waiting for a request from the City Hall for a meeting regarding the matter.

But DWUP operations head Genevieve Alcoseba yesterday told this paper that her office has not set a definite schedule yet for the meeting, though she added that they need permission from the university before they can proceed with the reblocking.

Reblocking will involve extending the distances between structures and widening roads/pathways to four meters wide.

Yesterday morning, DWUP’s technical team inspected the area to determine how the proposed reblocking will go.

“Kanang makasulod gyud ang bombero ug ambulansya for emergency purposes. Kay kini siya kaduha naman nasunog (We need to reblock so firefighters and ambulances can easily navigate the area during emergencies. The area has been hit by a fire twice),” Alcoseba said.

The DWUP chief also said she could not yet tell when the families could be allowed to return to their places as the city has to ensure first that everything is in order for proper implementation of rehabilitation efforts.

“Kung dili ni nato i-resolve ang pinaka-root cause nga walay adequate right of way, magbalik-balik ra ang problema,” she said.

The fire that hit Purok 3 allegedly started in a house located in the interior portion.

The blaze engulfed 107 households, affecting 194 families, a total of 716 individuals, the latest report from DWUP showed.

Kamputhaw barangay captain Jessica Cadungog said the barangay council has already declared state of calamity.

The victims are temporarily sheltered at Purok 8 gymnasium and a chapel near the affected area.

Cebu City Risk Reduction Management Office (CCDRRMO) is also distributing food packs which are good for at least three days.

Disaster kits, including clothing, rice, canned goods and other needs, will be distributed on Sunday.

For its part, the City Health Office, through the Barangay Health Workers and doctors, conducted free check-ups on the victims yesterday.

One of the fire victims, Zenaida Leyson, 50 years old, said that her family is still in trauma after the incident.

Leyson is hoping that they could receive building materials and settle back to their spots before Christmas.

Among those razed by the fire was the oldest mosque in Cebu, the Cebu Islamic Center Al Masjid.

Alcoseba, therefore, urged donors to send in halal-sensitive items, bearing in mind the needs of Muslim victims. Isabella G. Obor (FREEMAN)

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