(Photo courtesy of Abra Province Facebook Page)

MANILA – The Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development (DHSUD) seeks to partner with the private sector to fast-track land development and construction of resettlement sites in Abra and even in other calamity-stricken areas in the country.

Secretary Jose Rizalino Acuzar said on Wednesday DHSUD has initiated preliminary talks with some of the country’s biggest developers to explore potential development projects for affected families whose houses were either destroyed or damaged by the 7.3 magnitude earthquake in Northern Luzon last month.

“We have been providing emergency shelter assistance since the earthquake happened in the form of temporary shelter materials and now with financial assistance through the Emergency Housing Assistance Program (EHAP). We now need a proactive response through a more permanent solution to the damages this calamity has caused. Building shelters should now become a priority. We need help from our private partners for us to do that,” Acuzar said in a statement.

For Abra, the DHSUD chief said, they are eyeing three resettlement sites for quake-affected residents in Tayum, Bucay, and Peñarrubia with a potential to build 930 housing units.

“I recognize our funding limitations in the government. But we cannot stop there. We need to explore other means, for as long as it is legally allowed, to provide for the housing needs of our fellow Filipinos. The active participation of our partners in the private sector will be a big boost for this purpose. I will personally see to it that this will successfully come into fruition,” Acuzar added.

Upon validation of DHSUD Regional Office in the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) with the National Housing Authority (NHA) and the local government, Abra recorded 264 totally destroyed houses while 19,165 were partially damaged in the towns of Tayum, Bangued, Bucay, Pidigan, La Paz, and San Quintin.

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. earlier directed the DHSUD, Department of Social Welfare and Development, Department of Public Works and Highways, Department of National Defense, and National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council to closely monitor the progress of assistance being provided to the victims of the recent earthquake.

Acuzar, along with other DHSUD officials, is scheduled to visit Abra on Thursday to personally oversee the response being undertaken in the area. (PNA)