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What is left of the Sugbongcogon town hall the morning after fire struck. (photo by Edwin Iyo)

BACK TO ZERO

By NITZ ARANCON
with EDWIN IYO
Correspondents .

OFFICIALS of Sugbongcogon town in Misamis Oriental called their situation “back to zero” even as they called for help from the nation’s leaders so their seat of government could literally rise up from the ashes.

The municipality lost its 49-year-old town hall and everything inside it to a fire that broke out Tuesday night.

The town’s vice mayor Derrick Lagbas said that aside from rebuilding the town hall, the fire left problems that require garguantan efforts to solve such as reconstructing records.

Lagbas called for a special session of the town council Wednesday. During the session, the town’s legislature approved separate resolutions to ask senators financial aid so they could immediately rebuild their seat of government.

The municipal gym, once intended for evacuees from outlying villages, has been turned into the town’s temporary seat of government. There, Mayor Mildred Mondigo, Lagbas and members of the town council and their staff members, and workers from various town government departments have cramped like refugees since Wednesday.

“Amo lang  gihimo-an ug  division pero  wala maki mga lamisa, mga  bangko  ug mga gamit  sa opisina. Ma-o nang naghangyo kami sa atong mga senator nga mahatagan unta kami sa tabang financial,” said Lagbas.

Lagbas estimated the damages to property to reach as much as P30 million, but years of record-keeping and the documents themselves are priceless.

“Dili man kami  makagahom ana nga kandidad kay pobre man kami nga lungsod. Mao nga lakip sa among hangyo sa atong mga senator nga matabangan kami aron   among ma-construct  pagbalik sa sayo nga panahon ang amog munisipyo,” he said.

For starters, the requests for assistance were addressed to senators Aquilino Pimentel Jr., Juan Miguel Zubiri, Emmanuel Pacquiao, Cynthia Villar, and Senator-elect Christopher Go because he is known to be very close to President Duterte.

SFO2 Antonio Salugsugan, the town’s fire marshal, said the damages to the two-story building were estimated by investigators to reach only P4 million although Mayor Mondingo placed it at P11 million.

Salugsugan said the cause of the fire has remained unknown at presstime but initial investigation showed it started from a “bodega” at the left side of the town hall.

Salugsugan said the fire broke out at around 8:30 pm and the fire station was only informed through phone call 30 minutes later or at around 9 pm Tuesday.

He confirmed that the town’s fire truck could not be used because of a defective clutch.

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