Church opposes pending ‘eviction’ of 3,500 Yolanda families in Tacloban

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MANILA, Nov. 16, 2016— The Catholic Church’s social action arm is opposing a government plan to tear down houses in “danger zones” in Tacloban City.

Caritas Philippines is asking officials of the city government of Tacloban to revisit their decision to evict more thousands of families from their homes.

According to the Community of Yolanda Survivors and Partners (CYSP), the demolition will lead to the displacement of families in at least 15 coastal villages particularly in Magallanes and San Jose districts.

The CYSP is a coalition of 163 community organizations and ten non-government organizations including Caritas Philippines, the Canadian Catholic for Development and Peace and the Urban Poor Associates.

“We are appealing to stop imminent plans by the city government of Tacloban to forcibly evict 3,500 Yolanda-affected families in Tacloban City’s so called danger zones,” Caritas said.

The plans to begin the demolition and relocate the families came after a marching order by President Rodrigo Duterte to complete the shelter reconstruction of Yolanda survivors by December this year.

But in a letter sent to Cabinet Secretary Jun Evasco, the CYSP said most families resist the planned transfer to the northern barangays because of absence of livelihood opportunities, and difficult access to essential services such as schools, markets and hospitals.

“Unfortunately, this is not the kind of response that the Yolanda survivors had been praying for, that the administration of President Duterte review, reform and improve the rehabilitation and reconstruction process under its watch,” it said.

They also said that water and electricity also remain an “uphill challenge” in the relocation sites.

“This is another knee-jerk reaction that will only exacerbate the situation of Yolanda survivors who will now have to swallow the bitter pill of living in housing projects that are without access to water, electricity and access to education facilities,” the CYSP added.

The CYSP called on Evasco to convene an inter-agency dialogue to address the situation and clarify key issues on Yolanda reconstruction.

They lamented that many important concerns remain unclear such as the need for ensuring survivors’ participation in the reconstruction process.

Originally scheduled in July last year, the plan to evict the families living along coastal areas or dangers zones was deferred after it faced strong opposition from the affected communities. (CBCPNews)

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