North Cotabato Governor Nancy Catamco resumed office Thursday by visiting two evacuation sites in quake-hit Makilala, North Cotabato.
Earlier, the Office of the Ombudsman suspended the governor for 90 days in connection with a graft case while she was still a private citizen.
Catamco was welcomed by Makilala tribal leaders, led by Councilor Loreto Pampangan, Indigenous Peoples Mandatory Representative (IPMR), who performed “pamaas,” a tribal prayer and ritual for thanksgiving.
After the ritual, Catamco joined the evacuees from Barangay Luayon, Bato, Cabilao, Sto Nino, Indangan, Rodero, Garsika, Poblacion, Old Bulatukan and Sta. Felomina.
The breakfast also turned into a consultation assembly inside the evacuation center at the Makilala Central Elementary School.
During the consultations, village officials have sought for Catamco’s help in ensuring they have regular potable water and provisions like comfort rooms and bathrooms while they stay in evacuation sites.
Marisa Lumayo, former barangay chairman of Barangay Luayon, told Catamco of her and her village mates ordeal.
“Natulog mi sa yuta sa sulod na sa 20 ka adlaw dili lalim (We’ve been sleeping on the ground for the past 20 days; it was not easy,” she said.
Lumayo said everybody misses the comfort of their homes and much as they would like to go home, there are no houses that await them.
Worse, she added is that they were told that they cannot return to their village since it has been declared a “no-build zone.”
“Where are we going?” she asked Catamco, who responded that the government will not turn its back on the evacuees.
Lumayo said she was hopeful that Catamco would help the indigenous peoples amidst this crisis that they are facing and expressed their gratitude to all who had extended help.
Catamco urged all sectors to help rebuild North Cotabato, stressing that rebuilding efforts need the support of all sectors.
“This may be the worst of times but may become the best of times for the people to rise above the challenges. This may even bring great opportunity a rebuild a better community for Cotabateño to live.
“Kung may dakong problema, naay dakong solusyon (Huge problems have huge solutions),” Catamco said.
“Let’s not be wary of hope but instead unite ourselves and work together,” she added.
The governor said she will propose a comprehensive rehabilitation effort that would address the problems that emerged following the series of devastating earthquakes that hot the province and other parts of Mindanao. (PNA)