THE Catholic Church has expressed alarm over the reported plan of the Tacloban City government to evict some 3,000 typhoon Yolanda-affected families from their makeshift homes and tents along the areas identified by the city as danger zones.
The National Secretary for Social Action (NASSA)/Caritas Philippines, the Church’s social action arm, on Wednesday, disclosed that the affected families would be transferred to a much worse relocation site on the northern part of the city starting July 1.
Citing reports, NASSA/Caritas executive secretary Fr. Edwin Gariguez said the temporary shelters will be occupied by families for a minimum of two years while waiting for the completion of permanent houses built by the National Housing Authority and non-government organizations.
“While the city government is denying that it is forced eviction and is just a transfer option, this doesn’t seem (to be) the case. Why, in the first place, would they set a deadline for the people to vacate the area if it’s an option?” Gariguez said.
Most of these families are living at the communities along Old Road Sagkahan, which were among those badly hit by storm surge when Super Typhoon Yolanda hit the city in 2013.
The city government of Tacloban initially planned to transfer the affected families on the first week of May but it was deferred due to the people’s request to celebrate the Tacloban feast day on June 30. There are 14,000 families living in the so-called danger zones of the city.
Gariguez said the affected families are against the proposal because there is no provision of electricity and water in the said relocation areas..
Currently, a consortium is working on the development of the “Pope Francis Village,” a permanent in-city relocation site in Barangay Diit in Tacloban City. The project would accommodate at least 550 displaced families in the city and would be completed next year.
The project is led by the Urban Poor Associates, Canadian Catholic for Development and Peace, NASSA/Caritas Philippines, the Archdiocese of Palo, and the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer.