Baybay City provides quickest response & recovery

In less than one (1) year from the disaster, most of the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in the City of Baybay are now living in the shelters constructed for them by the Local Government Unit (LGU) in partnership with the national government agencies with funding from the Office of Civil Defense (OCD), and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) with funding from the Unites States Agency for International Development (USAID).

During his message, Baybay City Mayor Hon. Jose Carlos L. Cari thanked the Sangguniang Panlungsod of the City of Baybay, headed by Vice Mayor Atty. Ernesto M. Butawan, for providing funds either to purchase or to rent the land where the housing units were constructed. He also thanked the Baybayanons who allowed the construction of the transitional shelters of the IDPs for free.

It could be recalled that landslides were reported in seven (7) barangays of the City of Baybay due to typhoon Agaton on April 10, 2022. These include Barangays Kantagnos, Mailhi, Bunga, Maypatag, Kan-ipa, Villa Mag-aso, and Kagumay.

Based on the report of City Social Welfare and Development Officer Dr. Manuel Icon Donaire, 156 households were displaced in Barangay Kantagnos, 268 in Barangay Mailhi, 14 in Barangay Bunga, 36 in Barangay Maypatag, 3 in Barangay Kan-ipa, and 102 in Barangay Villa Mag-aso.

The first forty (40) permanent houses constructed by the Baybay City LGU in Barangay Higulo-an was handed over to the vulnerable households of Barangay Mailhi on March 8, 2023. And according to Mayor Cari, “I have already signed a contract for the additional housing units. We preferred to construct permanent structures because it is more cost effective compared to that of the temporary structures.”

The IOM, on the other hand, has constructed 155 transitional shelters for the displaced residents of Barangay Mailhi.  These are located at the temporary resettlement area in Barangay Kambonggan of this city, and in some private lots which were allowed to be used for the construction of their transitional houses for humanitarian reason. It is worth note-taking that the temporary resettlement area was rented by the Baybay City LGU for five (5) years from the Calungsod Family.

The rest (73 households), according to Dr. Donaire either did not stay at the Evacuation Center, thus were not given priority, or they did not pass the assessment of the IOM personnel because they have the capacity to put up their own house.

Dr. Donaire also revealed that in July 15, 2022, the first 40 temporary shelters constructed thru the concerted efforts of the Baybay City LGU, Philippine Army, Bureau of Fire Protection, Philippine National Police, and the residents of Barangay Kantagnos were turned over to the first 40 vulnerable families of the said barangay. The IOM also constructed 69 transitional shelters for the IDPs in Barangay Kantagnos, while the others constructed shanties around the temporary resettlement area in Barangay Maganhan while waiting for the completion of the additional 32 temporary housing units funded by the OCD.

The IOM also constructed transitional shelters for 13 IDPs in Barangay Bunga, 26 IDPs in Barangay Maypatag, and 92 in Barangay Villa Mag-aso. The rest of the IDPs were disqualified from the program either because they did not stay in the Evacuation Center or they have the capacity to build their own house, based on the assessment of the IOM people.

During his message, Mayor Cari said that things happen for a reason and that the survivors of Tropical Storm (TS) Agaton must go on with their lives and be thankful with what they have. He added that they must learn to live harmoniously with each other and work together towards the improvement of their abode. However, he promised that the Baybay City LGU will provide amenities that will make their lives easier such as the pathways, connection of utilities like light and water, and the needed outpost. (Marissa Miguel Cano, City Information Officer, Baybay City, Leyte)


Baybay City LGU inaugurates PNP Sub-station at VSU

“Ang gusto ng pulis dito sa Region 8 lagi kayong safe at mabigyan kayo ng serbisyong totoo.” This was the closing statement of the Philippine National Police Regional Office 8 Regional Director PBGEN ROMMEL FRANCISCO D MARBIL during the Blessing and Inauguration of the PNP Sub-station, Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Satellite Office and Terminal with Parking Area at the Visayas State University (VSU) Main Campus in Baybay City on February 27, 2023.

GENERAL MARBIL said that the police wants all the people in their respective areas of jurisdiction to be safe at all times but revealed that they have limitations such as the lack of the necessary equipment and buildings. Thus, he thanked the Local Government Unit of Baybay City headed by City Mayor Hon. Jose Carlos L. Cari for the construction of the building and the Visayas State University headed by President Dr. Edgardo E. Tulin for providing the lot.

During his welcome remarks VSU President Tulin revealed that discussions about the said project started two (2) years ago and that the discussions did not stop despite the pandemic,  “This is a forward looking facility because being a leading university in the country, the rising population of our students is expected to continue. Thus the importance of this facility cannot be underestimated.”

Mayor Cari, on the other hand said that the city is divided into four districts: North, East, South, and the Poblacion District and that close to 40% of the residents of the City of Baybay are in the North District. “Thus much attention should be given here especially because this is where the pride of Baybay is located – the Visayas State University,”  said Mayor Cari.

He added that this project was a part of the Peace and Order and Public Safety (POPS) Plan of the City of Baybay,“And anticipating the completion of our New Diversion Road in Barangay Kilim, the population in the North District Barangays is expected to rise in the next 2-3 years. That is why this sub-station is a must on this part of the city because it is both our duty and commitment to the public to maintain peace and order and to reduce the response time.”

Thus, Mayor Cari thanked the Sangguniang Panlungsod, headed by City Vice Mayor Atty. Ernesto Butawan for allocating funds for the project and VSU for providing the needed lot, “And I am sure that the personnel will be committed by the PNP.”

Vice Mayor Butawan also thanked the VSU Family for accommodating also the Terminal with Parking Area, a project between the VSU, Baybay City LGU and the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), not only for their students but for the riding public as well. Mayor Cari requested VSU to manage the facility in coordination with the City Traffic Management and Terminal Office (CTTO), headed by the CTMTO Head, Mr. Jerson Colocar.

Congressman Carl Nicolas C. Cari of the 5th District of Leyte, on the other hand, said that both his office and that of the Baybay City LGU support all the undertakings of the PNP and that the presence of PBGEN MARBIL is a proof of his sincerity to serve not only the Baybayanons but also the whole 5th District of Leyte.  He added that aside from the building which was turned-over to the PNP, the City of Baybay also has a lot of huge infrastructure projects, “Dahil dito po sa Baybay City libre po ang mangarap. Pero meron po kaming kasabihan dito na Lihok Baybay kaya ginagawa po namin ang lahat upang makamit ang aming mga pangarap.”

The young Congressman also revealed that many law makers in the country supports the bill which he authored, the House Bill No. 4553 which seeks to establish a VSU College of Medicine with the corresponding appropriation of funds from the national government. He said that, if approved, this will give the wannabe doctors in Region 8 the chance to pursue their dreams, “And I thank Dr. Tulin for his help.”

Dr. Tulin also said that the Blessing and Inauguration of the PNP Sub-station, Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Satellite Office and Terminal with Parking Area at the Visayas State University (VSU) Main Campus is a historic unprecedented activity in VSU, while Sangguniang Panlungsod Member & Chairperson of the Committee on Peace and Order and Public Safety Hon. Dominic Junie Murillo said that, “This marks not only the city’s support to peace and order but rather the support to our battle cry towards Kahapsay, Kalinaw and Kaambo-an in the City of Baybay.” (Marissa Miguel Cano, City Information Officer, Baybay City, Leyte)


The IOM handovers 355 transitional shelters to the IDPs of Baybay City

Three hundred fifty-five (355) Transitional Shelters were handed over by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) to the Baybayanons who were displaced by Typhoon Agaton last April 10, 2022. These are constructed in several barangays in the City of Baybay, either on site (lots provided by private individuals) or at the relocation sites provided by the Baybay City LGU.

During the Handover Ceremony of the said transitional shelters, the respective Punong Barangays thanked the IOM for providing the dream houses of their residents who were displaced by Typhoon Agaton, as the Geologists from the Mines and Geosciences Bureau Regional Office 8 (MGB RO 8) declared their respective barangays or sitios as no longer safe for habitation.

According to the Officer-in-Charge of the IOM Baybay Sattelite Station Ms. Maria Perpetua Bulawan, the IOM constructed the transitional shelters, with funding from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), as part of their commitment to support communities that are in disaster situation, especially those who lost their homes, by providing them safe, resilient and dignified shelters, because as she said “prolonged stay in the Evacuation Centers is not good for the victims of disasters like typhoon Agaton.”

To this, Vice Mayor Atty. Ernesto M. Butawan thanked not only IOM but all the other national government agencies, local and international humanitarian organizations, and private individuals who helped the City of Baybay, in one way or another, in its effort to eradicate the devastation brought about by Typhoon Agaton. He also thanked the beneficiaries for their patience and for staying at the Evacuation Centers for almost a year because their respective residences are no longer safe for dwelling.

Vice Mayor Butawan added that even if the transitional shelters constructed by the IOM are temporary, City Mayor Hon, Jose Carlos L. Cari will find a way to provide them with permanent place to stay because the land where these shelters are constructed are either rented by the Local Government Unit of Baybay or the owners of the land allowed its temporary use for humanitarian reason.

City Administrator Atty. Florante Cayunda Jr., on the other hand, explained that City Mayor Hon. Jose Carlos L. Cari, have learned a lot from the experiences of other Local Government Units (LGUs), especially due to typhoon Yolanda in 2013 where houses for the typhoon victims were either finished in 5-10 years or left unfinished by the responders until now. Thus, he said that Mayor Cari wanted that the disaster response of the City of Baybay to be faster and permanent. He added that the Mayor even requested the IOM to construct permanent houses, instead of transitional shelters, but IOM, after consultation with the USAID, said that they are required to follow standards in their response. However, Atty. Cayuda said that, “The transitional shelters look permanent and sturdy and this is actually record breaking, in terms of disaster response, that Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) are now living in their new houses in less than a year from the disaster.”

The IOM gave Certificates of Commendation to the Baybay City LGU and to the Punong Barangays of the beneficiaries of the transitional shelters for their steadfast support and partnership in the IOM’s transitional shelter project for the survivors of Typhoon Agaton. Ms. Bulawan said that their program will not be successful without the support of the LGU, the BLGUs, and the beneficiaries.

Finally, Ms. Bulawan left three (3) important messages to the IDPs. The first is GRATITUDE.  She said that Typhoon Agaton may have left them scars but they must be thankful that they are still alive and that GOD provided them with people to help them press on. The second is MOVE ON because it is difficult to start a new life with baggage of the past. Instead they must look at the past as a source of strength. The third is LOVE.  She said that GOD has given them the chance to live for a reason and that they must do the mission with love because this is the only way to survive.

City Social Welfare and Development Officer Dr. Manuel Icon Donaire also thanked the IOM, not only for the transitional shelters but for being one of the first responders during typhoon Agaton.  “We have no idea about Camp Management and it was the IOM who helped us through. We need temporary kitchens at the Evacuation Centers and they were also the ones who made this possible. We will forever be indebted to the IOM for these,” added Dr. Donaire.

City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Officer. Engr. Rhyse Austero, on the other hand, said that together with the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP), they will conduct Training on Firefighting and will install firefighting equipment in the relocation sites since the transitional houses are considered as made up of light materials.

Finally, it is worth note-taking that because of the experience with TS Agaton, a resident of Barangay Kantagnos wrote a poem of thanks for the IOM. (Marissa Miguel Cano, City Information Officer, Baybay City, Leyte)