Tipolo fire survivors hold rally, urge mayor to provide relocation site

THE survivors of the fire that hit Barangay Tipolo, Mandaue City last year staged a protest in front of the City Hall on Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2020, after their temporary shelters at the Cebu International Convention Center (CICC) grounds were subjected to demolition.

The destruction of the structures that housed 313 families was initiated by the Mandaue City Housing and Urban Development Office (Hudo). It started last Monday, Feb. 3.

Concena Toregosa, who led the rally, urged Mayor Jonas Cortes to temporarily stop the demolition and give them a relocation site.

Some of the survivors of the June 2019 Tipolo fire were renters and individuals who either shared houses with their relatives or shared rooms with other renters. The dawn fire left around 1,200 families homeless.

Toregosa said the financial assistance they had received from the Mandaue City Government was not enough. She did not divulge the amount.

During his October 2019 State of the City Address, Cortes had promised that his administration would shell out P12.8 million in cash aid for the displaced families.

Toregosa’s neighbor Mylene Argauanon said they slept on the concrete CICC grounds last Monday night.

“Ang mga bata wala na ka-eskwela (My children failed to go to school today),” she said.

Trying to disperse the protesters in a polite way, Centro Police Station Chief Ramil Morpos told the group to choose a representative among them who would air their concerns to the mayor.

“I respect that they have something to convey, but they should not interfere in the regular transactions that are happening in the City Hall right now. They also did not secure a permit or inform the City that they will be conducting their rally in front of the City Hall,” Morpos said.

Hudo chief Cesar Ylanan, in a separate interview, said that during the financial aid distribution, his personnel informed the fire survivors about the demolition of the temporary shelters on Jan. 31.

However, the demolition did not push through as the Hudo personnel had used the day to issue a final warning to the Tipolo fire survivors to vacate the CICC grounds before they would start destroying the structures.

“If they want assistance in vacating their area and sending their stuff somewhere in Mandaue, we are willing to offer our vehicles,” Ylanan said.

The fire survivors said they would remain on the CICC grounds while waiting for their transfer to a relocation site.(KFD)