Tacloban ‘Yolanda’ survivors get early Christmas gift; Mayor thanks President Duterte

TACLOBAN CITY -– For construction worker Rogelio Delfin, 59, moving into their new house is an early Christmas gift to their family.

On Monday, Delfin carried their belongings and got on a military truck to transfer to a permanent concrete house at the North Hill Arbours relocation site in Sto. Niño village, this city built by the National Housing Authority.

“My wife and I had been separated even before super typhoon Yolanda. Now, I want to start a new life here with my two unmarried children. This is my first time to own a concrete house,” said Delfin, a fisherman, whose family has been living in a makeshift house in San Jose district.

The old man’s family is just one of the 280 families that moved to permanent resettlement sites on Monday. The government targets to transfer 200 families every week until January next year.

No less than Presidential Assistant for the Visayas Michael Dino personally welcomed the relocated families.

Dino said that as mandated by President Rodrigo Duterte, the survivors should be transferred to the relocation sites next month.

The Chief Executive made the announcement when he attended the 3rd commemoration of super typhoon Yolanda in the city last November 8.

The President also sent five Ceres Liner buses to Tacloban to help in the relocation of the survivors. The buses will also be used to shuttle the students and those working at the city center from their homes in the northern resettlement sites to the city for the next six months, a stop-gap solution until new public vehicle routes are established in the relocation sites.

City Mayor Cristina Gonzales Romualdez said the city is really grateful to the President for pushing for the transfer of the settlers to their new homes.

“President Duterte really cares about Yolanda survivors,” Romualdez said.

The mayor said that there was a ceremonial switch lighting by the Leyte Electric Cooperative of 48 houses on Sunday night. The linemen will work day and night to make sure all houses will be bright this Yuletide season.

The 53rd engineering brigade of the Philippine Army has been helping transport the settlers and their things, the Department of Social Welfare and Development, NHA, and Department of Trade and Industry to introduce sustainable livelihoods for the residents.

Romualdez further said that 2,500 settlers had transferred before last May national elections. More than a hundred were transferred last week of October in different relocation sites.

“We still have 12,500 settlers that need to transfer to their permanent homes. We hope by 2017, all will be settled in their new homes,” she added.

We see a good future for the northern villages. The city government will put-up wet markets and new development will be realized here, thanks to the Habitat for Humanity for the Urban Development designed for the city,” Romualdez said.

The mayor is an ambassador of the Habitat for Humanity since 2011. Vicky Arnaiz with Lizbeth Ann Abella/PNA-northboundasia.com