Tacloban City Mayor Cristina G. Romualdez.
Tacloban City Mayor Cristina G. Romualdez.

TACLOBAN CITY, Nov. 21 (PNA) –- The city government here is eyeing a massive relocation of families from makeshift houses in coastal communities to permanent homes starting last week of November until Jan. 2017.

Mayor Cristina Romualdez said the target is to move at least 200 families every week from 19 coastal villages assessed by the city housing and community development office from downtown area to San Jose district near the airport.

There are at least 6,435 families from these priority areas, which account more than half of the 12,642 families in 35 villages up for transfer to safer grounds.

Since 2015, only more than 2,500 families have been moved to permanent homes in northern villages.

In the proposed mass relocation plan, 500 families will be relocated in each of the four batches and 374 families for 5th batch.

Government agencies work double time to provide potable water, electricity, livelihood, and classrooms for children near relocation sites.

“Everyone is working together to make sure that there is an increase in the number of occupied houses when President Rodrigo Duterte returns next month,” Romualdez said.

The Chief Executive was upset over slow pace of relocation for Yolanda-hit families when he visited the city to grace the 3rd year commemoration of powerful typhoon on November 8. Duterte promised to personally check relocation sites next month.

However, residents of coastal villages badly hit by super typhoon Yolanda have expressed opposition to the plan of the city government to demolish their houses and transfer them to resettlement sites.

Hundreds of residents in Magallanes, Sagkahan and San Jose districts trooped to the city legislative building last week to denounce relocation plans.

Among their concerns are distance from relocation sites to the commercial center and other essential services like hospital, school, market; absence of livelihood opportunities; poor access to safe water; and absence of electricity.

“We are not opposing on the transfer, but (what) we are asking is for the government to make these houses livable,” said Belinda Ginu-o, resident of San Jose district.

The Catholic Church through its social action arm, the National Secretariat for Social Action/Caritas Philippines supports the appeal of the affected residents to stop plans by the city government to move 3,500 families to resettlement sites.

“The hurried relocation of Yolanda survivors by the city government is purportedly being done on the pretext of the marching order issued by President Rodrigo Duterte to complete the shelter reconstruction of Yolanda survivors by December this year,” the statement said. (PNA)