200 quake-hit families in Davao del Sur face eviction from evacuation center

Hernel Tocmo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 22 2019 08:59 AM

HAGONOY, Davao del Sur — More than 200 families in Barangay Guihing in this town are not sure where they will spend Christmas, as they face eviction from an evacuation center at a private residential area.

Displaced families whose houses were wrecked by a magnitude-6.9 earthquake on Dec. 15 have been told to leave Hilda Subdivision by Monday, Dec. 23.

Joyce Gepayo, who has been living in a tent with her family for a week now, said they were content with the conditions at the center despite the heat but now they are worried about being kicked out.

“Sa totoo lang, mas nalulungkot kami. Kahit puntahan niyo pa ang bahay namin doon, sira na talaga. Hindi na matirhan, kahit kubo lang ’yon,” she told ABS-CBN News.

Homeowners at Hilda Subdivision said it was not their decision to force the evacuees out of a vacant lot sold to 30 people.

Benjamin Engracial, director of the homeowners’ association, said his group was only following an order that came from one of the owners who is in Zamboanga.

“Ang nangyari kasi, ang barangay hindi nag-coordinate sa association. Dumiretso lang sila sa pagpapasok dito, kahit alam sana nilang may direktiba mula sa itaas na hindi papapasukan ng mga evacuees,” Engracial said.

The barangay, however, denied Engracial’s accusation.

Guihing village chief Jojo Flores said officials couldn’t stop the quake-affected residents who fled directly to the private lot after the earthquake.

“Kasi sabi man din ng Phivolcs, the barangay must look for a safer place. Hindi pa natin alam kung ano ang susunod na mangyayari sa ’tin. So ’yun, may coordination kami sa kanila. Unfortunately, nagulat na ako na ganito na, big issue na,” Flores said.

“Sabi daw na ang barangay nagpahintulot daw. No, it’s their own initiative.”

Engracial said there is concern among homeowners over their safety on the eviction deadline.

If talks between the evacuees, homeowners and village officials fail, Flores said they will look for other safe places to transfer the evacuees.