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Duterte fulfills promise to Cebu landslide victims

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President Rodrigo Duterte buries the time capsule as he leads the groundbreaking ceremony for the Naga Permanent Housing Project in Naga City, Cebu on Friday. Assisting the President are Senator Christopher "Bong" Go, Presidential Assistant for the Visayas Michael Dino, Naga City Acting Mayor Kristine Vanessa Chiong and National Housing Authority General Manager Marcelino Escalada Jr. (PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO)

President Rodrigo Duterte led the groundbreaking and capsule-laying rites Friday of a permanent housing project for landslide survivors of Naga City in Cebu as it commemorates this month the first anniversary of a devastating landslide that killed scores of people.

Speaking before the officials and residents of the City of Naga, the President ordered the National Housing Authority (NHA) to give the housing units to the survivors for free. He also wants the families affected by Typhoon “Sendong” in Mindanao and the conflict in Zamboanga to get free shelters.

“I am mandating everyone in government who are listening to me now and to those who have difficulty in hearing. Listen very carefully. A house and lot will be given to all of you for free,” the President said.

The P90-million Naga Permanent Housing Project will be built in a 2.1-hectare land owned by the Cebu government located in Barangays Inoburan and Tinaan in this city.

One hundred ninety-two houses will be constructed for landslide survivors and families residing within the one-kilometer no-build zone. Project proponents said the project could be completed in six to seven months.

President Rodrigo Duterte gets the warmest welcome from the beneficiaries of the Naga Permanent Housing Project in Naga City, Cebu on Friday. (PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO)

Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go attended the ceremony with the President, after which they graced the inauguration of the dusitD2 Davao Hotel and the Dusit Thani Grand Ballroom in their home city.

The President expressed his gratitude to the local government of the City of Naga for inviting him to the groundbreaking ceremony, stressing the event is a fulfillment of the administration’s commitment to provide affordable and sustainable resettlement site for the victims of the 2018 landslide.

“As we mark the beginning of a promising future for Naga City, let me assure you of this administration’s unwavering commitment to help rebuild the lives of the landslide victims and their families through the provision of housing and other necessary assistance,” he said.

“With the strong collaboration and commitment of our public and private institutions, and the improved capacity of our local communities, especially here in Naga City, I am confident that we will overcome natural and man-made disasters and emerge as a stronger and more resilient nation.”

As the city reels from the disaster, the President also underscored the need to strengthen the preparedness and resilience of communities in times of disasters, weather disturbances, and other emergency situations.

Located in the first district of Cebu, the project is a joint undertaking of the NHA, Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board (HLURB), and the local government of the City of Naga.

The 20 September 2018 landslide killed 100 people and displaced around 2,000 families. The absence of permanent relocation compelled hundreds of survivors to live in evacuation centers for a few months, a problem that the government is addressing.

Others present during the event were Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council Chairman Eduardo del Rosario, NHA General Manager Marcelino Escalada Jr., Presidential Assistant for the Visayas Michael Dino, Cebu First District Rep. Eduardo Gullas, Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia, and Naga City Acting Mayor Kristine Vanessa Chiong.

In support of the administration’s aim to address the need for affordable, accessible and quality housing in the country, Go has filed Senate Bill No. 203, or the proposed National Housing Development, Production and Financing Act of 2019.

The bill mandates the crafting of a National Housing Development Production and Financing Program to be implemented by the Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development (DHSUD) and its attached key shelter agencies.

To encourage private sector participation in the program, pertinent government agencies are mandated to facilitate the release of the required housing-related permits, licenses, certifications and tax exemptions and rulings in accordance with the Ease of Doing Business Act.

“Dapat sa susunod na mga taon, wala nang squatter sa sariling bayan. This measure aims to address the 6.5-M housing gap over the period of 20 years,” Go has said in past statements. (PND)

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