7.2K residents in typhoon-hit southern Negros get gov’t aid

Negros Occidental Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson (2nd from right) leads the release of financial assistance to victims of Typhoon Odette in Kabankalan City Monday. (Richard Malihan photo)

BACOLOD City – Some 7,234 residents of Kabankalan City in southern Negros Occidental who were affected by Typhoon Odette last December received a cash aid of PHP5,000 each from the National Housing Authority (NHA) on Monday.

Implemented under the NHA’s Special Emergency Housing Assistance Program (EHAP), more than PHP36 million is part of the PHP90 million committed by the agency to the provincial government to rebuild the damaged houses of 18,000 families.

Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson, who led the turnover ceremony together with Mayor Pedro Zayco, said the cash assistance was not distributed earlier as the May 9 elections ban had prevented the provincial government from releasing aid during the campaign period.

“Kabankalan was really badly-hit. Because of budget constraints, we (the province) were not able to provide them with roofing materials. That is why we released to them first the assistance from the NHA,” he added.

Several areas in southern Negros, particularly the sixth district, including the cities of Kabankalan and Sipalay, as well as the municipalities of Ilog, Candoni, Cauayan, and Hinobaan were the worst hit after experiencing strong winds, heavy rains, and widespread floods when “Odette” slammed into the province on December 16.

On December 29, nine days after President Rodrigo Duterte visited Kabankalan to check the areas affected by the typhoon, NHA Western Visayas Chief Corporate Attorney John Leo Solinap turned over the symbolic check of PHP90 million to Lacson.

The Special EHAP Fund is provided under NHA Memorandum Circular 2021-070 signed by General Manager Marcelino Escalada Jr., to immediately help families whose houses were damaged or destroyed by Typhoon Odette.

It authorizes the NHA to provide PHP5,000 for each beneficiary family to rebuild their houses, regardless of the extent of damage sustained.

Lacson earlier said the provincial government itself has distributed at least PHP60 million worth of housing materials to typhoon-hit families in southern Negros. (PNA)