‘Fire victims don’t need to move out’

Posted on October 20, 2012

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After Wednesday’s big fire that destroyed houses of 79 families in barangay Day-as, Cebu City, can fire victims return to rebuild?

Some residents picked through the ruins, salvaging building materials but they were stopped from doing more by the private property owner.

Councilor Alvin Dizon, worried about the reports, said urban poor residents who’ve been staying there for years can’t be evicted by reason of the disaster.

Dizon, who chairs the council’s housing committee, said the lot owner informed Day-as barangay officials that they won’t allow the fire victims to rebuild in the area since they have other plans for their property.

“Fire can’t be used as grounds for evicting families,” Dizon said.

He cited as examples the 300 T. Padilla families whose structures were burned by a 2010 fire and the 100 Duljo Fatima families who also lost their homes to a recent fire.

Dizon said these families were also turned away by private lot owners but they were eventually allowed to rebuild on the same site.

“Only a valid court order can demolish the homes of these (Day-as) families,” he said.

Dizon said he would write to the Presidential Commission for the Urban Poor (PUP) to check on the status and ownership of the Day-as property so that officials would be properly guided on what action to take.

“If there is no pending case or court order, then the fire victims can always go back,” he said.

Based on records from Cebu City Hall’s Department of Social Welfare Services (DSWS), the fire affected 79 families and 42 house owners, leaving 354 persons homeless.

The fire hit three sitios of Moon Face, Buli and Tender Heart in barangay Day-as. Basic relief packs of food were distributed to the victims.

Schoolchildren were unable to attend classes since most of their clothes and their school materials were also burned.

Most of the displaced families are temporarily staying in a nearby barangay gym. /Chief of Reporters Doris C. Bongcac

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