Mayor denies 'eviction' of 3,000 Yolanda families

MANILA, Philippines – Tacloban City Mayor Alfred Romualdez on Thursday, June 11, denied that he ordered the eviction of 3,000 families of Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) survivors living in danger zones.  

"There's no forced eviction because it's untimely now, because we don't have enough shelters to provide," Romualdez said in a phone interview with Rappler. 

Romualdez said Tacloban City only has 200 available temporary shelters.

He said less than 3,000 families remain in danger zones in Tacloban City. (WATCH: Yolanda survivors in danger zones: What about us?)

A Catholic Church official earlier criticized the Tacloban City government for supposedly ordering the "forced eviction" of 3,000 families of Yolanda survivors.

In an interview quoted by the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) news service, Caritas Philippines executive secretary Fr Edwin Gariguez said the Tacloban City government is set to "evict" about 3,000 Yolanda survivors by July 1.

Gariguez pointed out that the Tacloban City government "is denying that it is not forced eviction and is just a transfer option." The priest, however, remained unconvinced. 

'People creating rumors' 

In a CBCP News article on Wednesday, June 10, Gariguez said, "Why, in the first place, would they set a deadline for the people to vacate the area if it's an option?"

Gariguez said the planned eviction will affect families living in Old Road Sagkahan in Tacloban City.

These families, he said, oppose the plan because of the "grim" realities there. 

"There is no provision of electricity and water in the said relocation areas. This is aside from the fact that it is far from their sources of livelihood," Gariguez said.

"We are therefore appealing to the city government of Tacloban to heed to our people’s call not to push through with the forced eviction or so-called transfer option until permanent shelters are available," the Caritas official added. 

On Friday, Romualdez said he met with community leaders and activist priest Fr Robert Reyes to discuss this controversy. 

The Tacloban City mayor attributed these claims to "people who are creating these rumors to create issues." 

He said: "It was just all speculation. Someone said this, and then someone said that, someone said this, but you know, I said, can you quote anyone who really said there's eviction here? There's no eviction." – Rappler.com

Paterno R. Esmaquel II

Paterno R. Esmaquel II is a senior reporter leading Rappler’s coverage of religion and foreign affairs. He finished MA Journalism in Ateneo and MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email him at pat.esmaquel@rappler.com.

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