Siargao

DENR: Siargao coastal residents to be given land far from sea

Rambo Talabong
DENR: Siargao coastal residents to be given land far from sea

CHAOS. General Luna, Siargao Island, Surigao del Norte on December 22, 2021. Photo by Albert Lozada/Greenpeace

Photo by Albert Lozada/Greenpeace

As relocation can take years, residents will stay in temporary relocation areas

MANILA, Philippines – Coastal residents of typhoon-struck Siargao will be given parcels of land farther from the sea to prevent them from being victims again of another typhoon, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) announced on Tuesday, December 28.

Unless expedited, though, the process could years.

In the taped broadcast of President Rodrigo Duterte’s Talk to the People meeting with top government officials, DENR Undersecretary Benny Antiporda announced that the local government of Siargao and the DENR have agreed to ban coastal residents from returning to their homes. (READ: ‘Trees were flying on Siargao Island,’ recounts survivor)

“In lieu of this, the DENR will distribute parcels of land…to qualified tenure migrants,” Antiporda said.

Antiporda said this can be done as Siargao has been declared a protected area, and tenure migrants can be given land for them to live safer. Typhoon Odette has killed at least 389 after passing through the Philippines from December 14 to 18.

According to data from the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) as of Monday evening, December 27, at least 541,862 Filipinos have been displaced because of Odette. Around 481,992 houses were damaged or destroyed, with losses amounting to around P29 million* ($577,005).

Tenure migrants are defined by the DENR as “occupants who have been actually, continuously and presently occupants who have been actually, continuously and presently occupying a portion of the protected area for five (5) years before the proclamation or law establishing the same as a protected area, and are solely dependent therein for subsistence.”

The DENR and local government of Siargao have yet to release the number of beneficiaries and how much land each family would receive from the plan.

Antiporda thanked Duterte for the idea of distributing land. Duterte responded to the DENR’s update, saying: “If it’s government land, give everything. Better give it to the people.”

The distribution of land may take months, and the building of houses up to years. Until then, the residents will be housed in temporary relocation sites, Antiporda said. – Rappler.com

*1$=P50.26

Rambo Talabong

Rambo Talabong covers the House of Representatives and local governments for Rappler. Prior to this, he covered security and crime. He was named Jaime V. Ongpin Fellow in 2019 for his reporting on President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs. In 2021, he was selected as a journalism fellow by the Fellowships at Auschwitz for the Study of Professional Ethics.