40 houses razed in T. Padilla blaze

THE Cebu City Government is still verifying if the fire-stricken area in T. Padilla is privately owned.

Department of Social Welfare Services (DSWS) officer-in-charge Jeffrey Ibones said the City will negotiate with the owners so that no individual will be displaced.

Based on the partial record of the DSWS, as of Sunday afternoon, Jan. 5, the fire that struck Sitio Bukol Saturday night, Jan. 4, razed 40 houses, affecting 50 families, or 192 individuals.

The City will provide P20,000 as financial assistance to home owners and P10,000 to renters.

The DSWS will provide free breakfast, lunch and dinner on the first three days after the fire. After that, it will distribute rice and canned goods, he said.

The DSWS will also provide housing materials, but this may take time. Some survivors of prior fires have yet to receive their assistance, Ibones said.

Survivors who are staying at the barangay gym were given tarpaulin covers, or trapal.

T. Padilla Barangay Captain Michael Ralota, for his part, said the survivors can return and rebuild their homes.

He said the affected area is private, which is why the City cannot reblock it.

He said it would have been of great help had the planned rehabilitation of the barangay water system pushed through or had the water pipe tank at the bank of the public market been functioning,

“The planned rehabilitation has been on the drawing board for so long. Several administrations have come and gone. The government has spent millions of pesos on that but it still doesn’t function. I could implement the water system myself since I am a master plumber,” Ralota said in Cebuano.

The problem with the tank is that it needs cleaning, he said.

The barangay official said fire survivors can temporarily stay in the barangay gym while they rebuild.

As for the assistance from the barangay, Ralota said he still has to discuss the matter with the barangay council, adding that they might declare a state of calamity.

Some like 61-year-old Lito Catalino escaped with only the clothes on his back. He said he made sure all his grandchildren were safe so it never crossed his mind to save any personal belonging.

“I have 12 grandchildren and they are all little,” he said in Cebuano.

Marites Cabillan and her family were renting a room in the house where the fire started. The 45-year-old said they survived with only the clothes they wore.

“We didn’t even have time to pick up a single item. We rushed out of the house barefoot,” she said in Cebuano.

Some survivors have chosen to set up camp in the fire-stricken area. They said the barangay gym is too far. (JJL, JCT, BBT / PJB)