Soldiers pitch in to buy lot, build homes for quake-displaced families

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    THE Philippine Army is buying a lot in North Cotabato, where temporary shelters will be built for families displaced by three strong quakes that hit Mindanao last month.

    The funds for the purchase of the lot came from donations from Army soldiers numbering at least 90,000. The soldiers donated P100 each, the equivalent of their allowance for two meals.

    Army chief Lt. Gen. Macairog Alberto handed over the donation, worth P9.2 million, to military commanders involved in the ongoing relief operations, during rites at the Army headquarters in Fort Bonifacio yesterday.

    “In these trying times, we are in solidarity with the people of Mindanao,” said Alberto after handing the check to Maj. Gen. Jose Faustino Jr., chief of the 10th Infantry Division and commander of the Disaster Response Task Force.

    “The funds donated will be used to purchase a lot and build 100 homes where the evacuees can transfer to, so that the children can use the schools (where the evacuees are currently staying),” Alberto said.

    The amount will be used to acquire about 4.9 hectares of land in Makilala town in North Cotabato and to buy materials for the construction of the Kobe-type temporary shelters. Each house, which can accommodate seven people, will cost P50,000.

    Acting Army spokesman Col. Patricio Ruben Amata said a “private” individual owns the land the Army is purchasing. He said the purchase may be finalized today.

    Amata said some of the temporary shelters have been constructed by Army engineers and these would be transferred after the Army acquires the lot. The other shelters will be built on site.

    Asked what the Army will do after the displaced residents return to their homes, Amata said the Army can use the area “as a training site for our soldiers or we can build a camp there because one of our units there is just borrowing land (to house their camp).”

    The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council said the recent quakes claimed 24 lives. The epicenter of the three quakes was Tulunan town in North Cotabato.

    The tremors were felt also in nearby provinces.

    The NDRRMC said at least 53,800 families in Davao and Soccsksargen regions were affected by the quakes, with almost 10,500 families still housed in evacuation centers.

    NDRRMC executive director Ricardo Jalad has said at least P4 billion will be needed for the relief operations in the quake-stricken areas and for the construction of homes for the displaced population.

    Jalad, concurrent administrator of the Office of Civil Defense, said the part of the amount will have to be funded by the Office of the President because government agencies will not be able to shoulder the entire projects.