5,800 Botolan folk told to permanently leave homes
Zambales Gov. Amor Deloso said residents of four barangays in Botolan town have to permanently abandon their homes as the Bucao River continues to flow through their villages toward the South China Sea.
Rampaging waters from the Bucao River, which first wreaked havoc in Botolan during storm “Kiko” last Aug. 6, have prevented some 5,800 evacuees from returning to their homes in Barangays Carael, Paudpod, Batonlapoc, and lower San Juan.
An official of the Provincial Disaster Coordinating Council earlier admitted that the natural channel of the Bucao River used to flow through the four affected barangays.
Earlier, Chief Superintendent Leon Nilo de la Cruz, Central Luzon police director, said the government would permanently relocate the displaced residents and allow the Bucao River to run its path now.
De la Cruz said Public Works and Highways Secretary Hermogenes Ebdane reached this decision in a recent meeting of the Regional Disaster Coordinating Council.
“The decision was to let the river seek its natural course,” he said, echoing statements that the Bucao River has merely reclaimed its original channel.
Flooding since Ondoy has affected 10 out of 31 barangays in Botolan, but the four barangays that Deloso named were the most severely affected.
The provincial government, Deloso said, is now drafting a master plan for a 4,000-unit socialized housing project that will be put up on a 52-hectare land he himself donated near the still-to-be-completed Iba-Tarlac Road in upper San Juan.
Deloso could not readily give an estimate of the cost of each housing unit but said the road construction alone would amount to some P61 million.
“We are trying to lessen the cost of the project so that the beneficiaries will not have a hard time paying for their units,” he said. By Ding Cervantes (The Philippine Star)