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Slow ‘Yolanda’ rehab irks Du30

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Pope Francis village

Many survivors of Supertyphoon “Yolanda” in Tacloban City have been relocated to new and sturdier houses, like these in Pope Francis Village. —JOAN BONDOC

TACLOBAN CITY—On Nov. 8 last year, during the commemoration of the 2013 onslaught of Supertyphoon “Yolanda” (international name: Haiyan) that flattened this city in Leyte province, President Duterte promised that all families rendered homeless would get new houses within a month.

But more than two months after making that commitment, more than 8,000 families here are still waiting to be relocated to permanent shelters in the city, away from danger zones.

The President, who returned to Tacloban on Wednesday, was unhappy over the snail-paced transfer of families displaced by Yolanda.

Pounding on the podium, Mr. Duterte gave concerned agencies until March to make sure that the remaining 8,816 families would already be in permanent shelters.

“January, February, March. March, lipat na kayo dito at makabalik ako. Kung di matapos sa March, maggawa kayo ng limang krus, yung parang kay Kristo. Ipakarga ko sa kanila at ikot-ikot dito (January, February, March. By March, you should have transferred already. I will return. If these are not ready by then, they better make five crosses, like Jesus Christ’s cross. I will make them carry those around here),” he said.

He, however, did not specify the objects of his ire, although he hinted that they are officials of agencies involved in providing permanent houses to Yolanda survivors.

Mr. Duterte arrived here past 4 p.m. on Wednesday, two hours behind schedule, to lead the turnover of about 1,100 housing units to families who lost their houses after Yolanda, the strongest typhoon to hit land, devastated the city.

More houses

The program was held at New Hope Village in Barangay Santa Elena, about 17 km away from the city proper.

The 1,100 units are in the relocation sites New Hope Village, Ridge View Village, Greendale, Guadalupe, Villa Diana, Villa Sofia and North Hill Arbours.

During the ceremony, Secretary Leoncio Evasco Jr., chair of the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council, presented an update of resettlement.

His report said that as of Jan. 23, 5,617 families had been relocated in Tacloban, considered the ground zero of Yolanda.

The number represented about 38 percent of 14,433 families who had yet to be relocated.

Among the agencies helping the National Housing Authority (NHA) to build these houses are the Department of Public Works and Highways, Local Water Utilities Administration and its local counterpart, the Leyte Metropolitan Water District, and the National Electrification Administration, through its local utility, the Leyte II Electric Cooperative.

Dismay

Rizalde Mediavillo, NHA regional manager, said the agency would exert its “best effort” to comply with the new deadline, the second imposed by Mr. Duterte.

During last year’s commemoration, the President also expressed his dismay over the slow relocation of survivors.

He vowed to return to Tacloban in December to see if his orders had been carried through. He, however, failed to fulfill his promise.

“We will do whatever is necessary to finish this. If we need to do overtime work, we will do overtime work,” Mediavillo said.

The NHA earlier cited bad weather, difficulty in finding relocation sites and problems encountered in site development as among the reasons for the delay of the construction of these houses.

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