In the absence of needed utilities and livelihood
TACLOBAN CITY- The Catholic Church has appealed to the city government of Tacloban to stop the scheduled eviction of families hit by supertyphoon “Yolanda” in the city.
Through its social action arm, the National Secretariat for Social Action (NASSA) / Caritas Philippines along with other groups said that about 3,500 Yolanda-affected families in 15 coastal barangays in the city will be “displaced” with this move of the city government.
“Unfortunately, this is not the kind of response that the Yolanda survivors had been praying for,” said a letter from Community of Yolanda Survivors and Partners (CYSP), a coalition of 163 community organizations and 10 non-government organizations including NASSA/Caritas Philippines, Urban Poor Associates and the Canadian Catholic for Development and Peace.
During his visit in Tacloban on November 8, President Rodrigo Duterte ordered the National Housing Authority to finish all the construction of permanent houses and relocate families still living in temporary shelters or in areas declared as danger zones next month.
City Councilor Aimee Grafil, who chairs the committee on the urban poor, human and housing resettlement, said that the city government “is doing its best” to comply with the mandate of the national government to transfer the families who lost their houses due to Yolanda.
She, however, denied that the city will forcibly evict the families, particularly those in the coastal areas. “We cannot force them,” she said. According to Grafil, they need to “meet half-way” with the people who expressed complaint about the plan.
“They need to understand that we are also doing our part,” she said. She added that there are also families who are willing to transfer in the northern relocation sites.
“The National Housing Authority and City Housing (Office) have conducted orientation and consultation with the families,” Grafil said.
She added that the city government has provided water in the relocation sites through delivery trucks every day as part of its commitment to the families.
On Wednesday (Nov. 16), about 500 Yolanda families and Church group leaders trooped to the Sangguniang Panlungsod building to dramatize their opposition on the planned immediate transfer.
The affected families were one in saying that while they want to be relocated to permanent shelters, needed facilities and provisions like water and power should also be installed.
On top of these, the families, who mainly depend on fishing, also ask the government to provide them livelihood opportunities considering that their transfer would mean economic dislocation.
Ma. Regie Ruego, focal person of the Pope Francis for Resilient and Co-Empowered Sustainable Communities (FRANCESCO), said that that the mass transfer of the Yolanda families “is for compliance purposes only.”
“They are doing it so they have something to report to Pres. Duterte when he would return in Tacloban by December (to check the progress of the housing resettlement). The issues here are acceptability, accessibility, and the process of resettlement projects are too far from being achieved,” she said. (RONALD O. REYES)