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)