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Bishops’ conference to build new homes

MANILA (UCAN) : The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines announced on January 3  that it will seek funding for the construction of 1,000 houses for victims of recent flooding that has claimed the lives of more than 1,200 people and left hundreds of thousands more displaced.

The plan includes construction of 400 permanent homes in Cagayan de Oro City, another 400 transitional homes in Iligan City and 200 other temporary shelters in Dumaguete City.

Father Edwin Gariguez, executive secretary of the Commission on Social Action, Justice and Peace of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of The Philippines, said a start date would depend on approval of funding.

“We are asking Caritas Internationalis for 70 million pesos (12.5 million). They will start releasing their pledges once we finish the revision of the proposal.”

He said he expected construction to begin by mid-February once Caritas gives its approval.

“Those in Iligan and Dumaguete will be constructed on site, while those in Cagayan de Oro will be relocated. We have to find a suitable place for the 400 families there,” he said.

Father Gariguez said relief supplies have been arriving steadily, but that shelter is the principal need.

“There are tent cities but these are only temporary. We want to address the long-term need of the community—relocation and shelter assistance. Otherwise, (residents) will just return to the hazardous areas.”

Government and other groups have also announced plans to address housing needs in the wake of flooding.

Welfare secretary, Corazon Soliman, has said the government would prepare an unspecified number of permanent homes for flood victims now being moved to tents and temporary shelters from schools and churches.

The Jesuit-run Ateneo de Manila University has also tabled a plan to build 200 new residences in two flood-affected cities.