Leaders of the local Roman Catholic Church and the city government of Dumaguete yesterday said they want a sustained partnership to provide homes for families left homeless by flood incidents.
Earlier, outgoing Bishop John Du of the Diocese of Dumaguete, and Mayor Manuel Sagarbarria led the groundbreaking and blessing of the project site in Barangay Bajumpandan, where 58 low-cost houses will initially be built through funds from the Catholic Church.
The city's counterpart is the lot on which the houses will be built. The 5,000 square-meter lot already has 60 other low-cost houses, funded by the national government also for typhoon and flood victims, Sagarbarria said.
In his message, Du emphasized the Church's teaching on “preferential option for the poor”, and lauded the city government for its concern in providing decent shelter for the homeless. The city's offer of the lot is an indication of this, he added.
The bishop, who will leave the Diocese for a new assignment as Archbishop of Palo, Leyte, next week, admitted that while he feels sad to go, he is happy that the housing project has been accomplished.
He went through sleepless nights thinking about the displaced families after tropical storm “Sendong” struck Dumaguete and other parts of Negros Oriental last December.
The housing project is funded by the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines through the National Secretariat for Social Action, the local Social Action Center of the Diocese of Dumaguete and Caritas.
Called the Caritas Village Shelter, the 58 initial housing units are targeted to be completed in six to eight months, Fr. Burton Villarmente, of the Diocese of Dumaguete SAC, said.
Sagarbarria has assured Du that the city will look for another lot to accommodate more housing units to be covered by the project.
Villarmente had earlier said that 115 houses were to be built with funds from the Church, but only 58 can be constructed at the Bajumpandan site.
Cynthia Perez, of NASSA, said that beyond just building homes for the displaced families, there is a deeper responsibility of the Church to establish a community of love, unity and development that is God-centered.*JFP
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