'Ferdie' victims in Batanes to receive housing aid

MANILA, Philippines – Typhoon "Ferdie" damaged more than 2,000 homes in the thinly-populated province of Batanes, which had zero casualties from the typhoon.

Vice President Leni Robredo, chief of the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC), said 510 houses were totally swept away by the typhoon while 400 were heavily damaged. The remaining 1,545 were partially destroyed. Batanes has a population of 17,000.

"The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) reported to us that the highest windspeed they recorded was at 298 kilometers per hour so it's almost like Yolanda," Robredo said after she visited Batanes on Monday, September 19.

The provincial board declared Batanes under state of calamity after the devastation of Ferdie last week. Total damages in the province amount to more than P500 million as of September 19. (READ: Zero casualty: Government reaches isolated Batanes island

Robredo said that they will help the people in Batanes to rebuild their houses.

"I called for an emergency meeting with the key shelter agencies. We really waited for me to go there and see the state of the province myself. But I think it would be easier to rehabilitate the houses in Batanes than the Yolanda aftermath in Samar and Leyte," she said.

The housing chief said that most of the people in Batanes own their lots, unlike in Eastern Visayas. Robredo earlier raised that housing programs in the Yolanda-stricken region was delayed because of the difficulty in securing land titles – a requirement for housing assistance.

For Batanes, the vice president said they just have to provide aid in rebuilding the homes. She also told the potential beneficiaries that they will be rebuilding their homes for long-term use instead of building temporary shelters.

Asked for a timeline of the shelter assistance, Robredo said that it would still depend on the victims' compliance of requirements. But she will be coordinating with the housing agencies regarding how can they work around the process to provide immediate housing aid for the victims.

The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) reported there were 3,386 families affected by the typhoon. Disaster relief assistance from the government is still in place. – Rappler.com

Patty Pasion

Patty leads the Rappler+ membership program. She used to be a Rappler multimedia reporter who covered politics, labor, and development issues of vulnerable sectors.