Immediately after the massive destruction brought about by the big floods worsened by rampaging logs that accompanied the onslaught of Typhoon Sendong as it hit several cities in Eastern Visayas and Northern Mindanao last December, the Chamber of Real Estate & Builders’ Associations, Inc. (CREBA) launched a nationwide fund drive among its members to support relief assistance efforts, particularly in Cagayan de Oro and Iligan where the Chamber maintains two active chapters.
Indeed, the effects of this phenomenon have affected so many lives. Casualties have reportedly reached more than 1,000 and continue to rise. Any help that can be spared by all of us could spell survival for our unfortunate kababayans, many of whom spent their holidays in evacuation centres away from home, apart from their families and devoid of most of their possessions.
This instantaneous response generated quick and helpful support from many of the country’s real estate developers and other stakeholders, many of whom, aside from undertaking assistance programs of their own via their networks, corporations, and other NGO’s, were so kind to contribute to CREBA’s call for cash and in-kind donations. Hence, before the end of 2011, CREBA was able to transmit a substantial amount of initial cash donation.
The CREBA leadership recognizes the long-term need of the thousands of families displaced by Sendong before they can actually rebuild and recover from their enormous loss. This is why the Chamber’s Board of Directors approved to match whatever donation could be solicited from among its members, chapters, support organizations and affiliate foundations up to March 2012.
During the second week of January this year, CREBA’s Vice-President for Chapter Affairs Techie P. Bautista, Public Relations Officer Vitus P. Cruz and I took to a visit of the calamity areas in these two cities to mobilize our forces and find other ways through which the Chamber could be of assistance. Total damaged houses in Misamis Oriental alone as reported by the National Disaster and Risk Reduction Management Council (NDRRMC) is more than 5,000. At least 98% of these are located in Cagayan de Oro. To date, at least 10,000 families in Northern Mindanao are camped out in evacuation centres for temporary shelter. The question is, for how long?
This put to fore CREBA into another wave of action towards initiating a model community development for the urban poor. Under this concept, CREBA will spearhead the planning and implementation of a one hectare comprehensive land development with 120 housing units to be funded by private donors.
Rehabilitation for the victims of Typhoon Sendong is a serious concern, after the relief operations supported by local and international groups have served their purpose. Many assistance institutions, private or government, local and international, are willing to help but may not be aware how. There is a need for an effective developmental model to address the needs of the urban poor, especially those affected by Typhoon Sendong.
On the side of policy, CREBA believes that the need to establish larger annual targets for mass housing is made even more urgent and compelling by the spate of typhoons, floods, and other natural and man-made calamities that have destroyed hundreds of thousands of dwellings and left many families homeless and penniless overnight.
Local governments must complete their comprehensive land use plans (CLUPs) immediately, and disallow developers and citizens from building homes and living along riverbanks, mining areas, and other danger zones.
This must be coupled by a strong commitment from all developers and other professionals in the housing and real estate industry to strictly adhere to laws and policies that govern land use and care for the environment in our country, particularly in the communities where their projects are located, and contribute to efforts in mitigating the effects of climate change.