Pope Francis to visit Tacloban

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Sunday, August 17, 2014


CEBU -- Pope Francis will visit Tacloban City for six and a half hours on January 17, 2015 and would like to spend all of his time meeting with the poor people who survived Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan).

Palo, Leyte Archbishop John Du urged the country’s “powerful and influential people” to stay on the sidelines and give the Pope a chance to remind the survivors that God has not abandoned them.

The archbishop visited Cebu on Saturday to sign an agreement with SM Cares Foundation Inc., which will build 400 houses for Yolanda survivors on archdiocese-owned land in Tacloban City.

They intend to complete these houses before the Pope’s arrival five months from now.

“The church is always with the poor people,” Du said.

This is the Pope’s itinerary so far: he will go to the Archbishop’s Residence in Tacloban, share a meal with some people, supervise a clinic for the poor and visit a resettlement site within church property.

Partnership

Du said that being a Cebuano, he would be happy if the Pope would visit Cebu, but it isn’t on the itinerary.

From Manila, Pope Francis will fly to Tacloban and will head back to the capital at 4 p.m. for another series of activities.

The Pope is currently visiting South Korea for the beatification mass of 124 martyrs.

Pope Francis in South Korea
Pope Francis, right, kisses a girl as he arrives with the popemobile to celebrate a mass and the beatification Paul Yun ji-Chung and 123 martyr companions at Gwanghwamun Gate in Seoul, South Korea, Saturday, Aug. 16, 2014. (AP Photo)


During the interview on Saturday, Archbishop Du thanked SM Cares for the partnership.

“I have experienced for myself how helpless it was to be homeless after the typhoon, when we only had tarpaulin as cover,” Du said.

Archbishop Du, Vicar- General Msgr. Jaime Villanueva and Chancellor Fr. Ric Marpa signed the agreement on Saturday on behalf of the church.

Those who signed for SM were SM Prime Holdings Inc. Vice President Marissa Fernan, SM Foundation Inc. Executive Director Carmen Linda Atayde and Executive Director Deborah Sy.

Fernan said that SM Cares Foundation will build 400 houses in Tacloban City, 200 houses in Bogo City in Cebu, 200 houses in Ormoc City and 200 houses in Iloilo.

P260M for shelter

SM’s projects for the four areas will cost an estimated P260 million, of which P80-P90 million will be for Tacloban City.

There will be a second phase of about 1,000 houses in Tacloban City, which they hope to finish by July 2015, Fernan also said.

The houses will be built on archdiocese-owned land in Tacloban, while those in Ormoc will be constructed on land donated by the Codilla family.

Aside from the housing project, SM Cares Foundation also helped in the rehabilitation of a hospital in Tacloban and a health center in Tabontabon, one of the towns in Leyte.

The Tacloban City Government is assisting in the clearing operations in the housing site.

The local government pays for the gasoline, while SM Cares pays the salary of the heavy equipment operator.

Fernan disclosed that SM is also building a mall in Tacloban City. (EOB/Sun.Star Cebu)

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