President Benigno Aquino III and Social Welfare Secretary Corazon “Dinky” Soliman (MNS Photo)

President Benigno Aquino III and Social Welfare Secretary Corazon “Dinky” Soliman (MNS Photo)

MANILA (Mabuhay) – Welfare Secretary Corazon “Dinky” Soliman belied claims that the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) is responsible for the relocation of some 250 families from their tents in Candahug village, Palo town, Leyte province to another site for Pope Francis’ visit in January 2015.

The families have been staying in bunkhouses since their homes have been destroyed by Supertyphoon ‘Yolanda’ (international name: Haiyan) in November 2013.

Soliman confirmed that there would be relocations of those living in tents – not due to the papal visit – but in accordance with an already established government plan.

Wala po akong alam na ililipat sila dahil sa pagbisita ni Santo Papa. May alam ako na ililipat ‘yung mga nakatira pa sa tents kasi ayaw natin silang mabasa at sila ang ililipat sa transitional shelters na tinukoy ng lokal na pamahalaan, at ‘yun po ay sa San Isidro at Tacuranga,” Soliman said.

(I do not know that they will be relocated due to Pope Francis’ visit. Only those who are still living in tents will be relocated because we do not want them to be drenched in rain. They will be the ones who will be relocated to transitional shelters identified by the local government which will be in San Isidro and Tacuranga.)

Soliman said that the families shall only be relocated from their bunkhouses once their permanent houses have been built.

Palo mayor Remedios Petilla plans to transfer the families in Candahug village to bunkhouses in Tacuranga village or in permanent relocation sites which are still being built in line with the preparations of the local government for the Pope’s visit.

The Pope will visit Tacloban City and Palo on January 17, 2015. Pope Francis will preside a mass in front of a vacant lot of the Tacloban airport upon his arrival and will then dine with the poor in the Archbishop’s residence.

He is also set to bless the Pope Francis Center for the Poor and the newly refurbished Metropolitan Cathedral of the Lord’s Transfiguration in Palo before returning to Manila.

Palo Archbishop John Du said that the purpose of the papal visit to the country is to be with the poor. (MNS)