Some 550 families who were displaced by super typhoon Haiyan in 2013 will soon have permanent homes courtesy of the Catholic Church's social action arm Caritas Philippines. The 550 families, who continue to live in temporary shelters, will soon be relocated to the Pope Francis Village in the village of Diit in the city of Tacloban. Father Edwin Gariguez, executive secretary of Caritas Philippines, said the village is a "people-driven model community" that will not only provide shelter but also provide residents of sources of income through an organic farm. The village, which is the first "in-city relocation" for victims of typhoon Haiyan, has its own day-care center for children, a school, and a chapel. "This only proves that in-city housing is possible. We can provide permanent housing to the people of Tacloban without taking them away from their livelihood," said Fr. Gariguez.
The other permanent shelter projects being built by the government are located in villages outside the city. The priest has questioned the delay in the release of government funds for the rehabilitation of Haiyan-affected areas. Data from a study done by Caritas Philippines show that only US$1.6 billion of the US$3.7 billion funding requirements for rehabilitation have been released by the government as of March 2015. The study also revealed that only US$52 million of the targeted US$568 million for social services was funded in 2014. A report by the government's Department of Budget and Management showed that the money for the reconstruction of typhoon-affected areas are shared with other rehabilitation efforts for other calamities. "Why do they have to mix up the funds for the rehabilitation efforts of different calamities? This is a clear disregard of basic accounting principles," said Fr. Gariguez. "Again, this clearly shows the government's 'super inefficiency'," he said. The priest also warned about the Philippine government's indebtedness. "The financial requirements of the rehabilitation have become the government's pretext in accessing loan obligations with multilateral financial institutions," Fr. Gariguez said. Caritas is assisting a move to find permanent housing for those displaced by typhoon Haiyan in 2013. (Photo by Vincent Go)
The priest said the government already incurred about US$2.7 billion in debts but was only able to complete 2,100 shelters for typhoon victims by the end of 2014. "This is way below the much needed and targeted 205,128 shelters," he said. Caritas Philippines was able to construct 3,117 houses for typhoon survivors in 2014. Denis Murphy, head of the nongovernment organization Urban Poor Associates, said in-city relocation allows family members to earn a decent income while children have easy access to education. Archbishop John Du of Palo led the Aug. 17 ground-breaking ceremony of the 12-hectare project site. Super typhoon Haiyan hit the province of Leyte in November 2013, killing some 7,500 people.
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