• Church hits ‘inhabitable housing’ for disaster victims

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    Officials of the Catholic Church in disaster-stricken areas sounded out their rage over false promises of the government, giving inhabitable shelter to thousands of calamity victims.

    Msgr. Cris Manongas, administrator of the Archdiocese of Zamboanga pointed out that the government has not yet granted its promise to provide a P3.5-billion fund for the reconstruction of the houses burned and destroyed by the two-month standoff between the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and government troops in September 2013.

    Manongas said that more than 30,000 evacuees choke the Zamboanga City sports complex that is being used as evacuation center.

    He added that at least 66 persons had died because of the “unhealthy” conditions that evacuees have to cope with.

    “There is a promise of P3.5 billion for the reconstruction [of the victims’ houses], but we have not seen any reconstruction so far,” Manongas said.
    “We only get promises, lahat promises . . . promises, galit na galit na ang mga tao dito.”

    He noted that the evacuees’ destitute condition had pushed some minors to get involved in illegal drug and prostitution.

    While the government had built bunkhouses or temporary shelters, these run against the customs and folkways of some victims, he added.

    “There are bunkhouses constructed about seven kilometers away from the city, you simply cannot force Badjaos to go upland. The Badjaos are people of the sea, how can you bring them to the mountains?” Manongas cited.

    The priest believes that the residents in Zamboanga are victims of the man-made disasters and that the government should provide “habitable housing” for them.

    In Samar, director of the Social Action Center at the Archdiocese of Calbayog, Rev. Fr. Cesar Aculan said that they have yet to hurdle problems identifying relocation sites for Yolanda victims.

    Fr. Aculan said that Yolanda victims are living at the tent city that was swamped with floods when Typhoon Agaton and Basyang hit the area.

    He noted that the victims have not yet transferred to the constructed bunkhouses with leaky roofs, and are far from the people’s source of income.

    “Ang mga bunkhouses dito sa Samar bakante pa, iilan lamang ang mga tao tulad sa Marabot, kulang ang taker, isang isyu malayo sa source of income nila, iba walang ilaw, tumutulo pa,” he added.

    However, he said that the Catholic Church, private sector and the local government in Samar are conducting a series of meetings to address the said problem.

    The Samar provincial government earlier vowed to provide funds and procure a vacant lot for use as relocation site of Yolanda victims.

    In Samar, at least 109, 000 families or over 513,000 individuals were affected when the super typhoon ravaged Eastern Visayas on November 8, 2013.

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