MANILA, Philippines — The Quezon City government Monday said it will award 25,000 housing units in the National Housing Authority (NHA) relocation sites to the city`s informal settlers especially those living in areas listed as danger zones.
Ramon Asprer, head of the city`s Urban Poor Affairs Office (UPAO) said the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) is in the midst of validating the master list of informal settlers to ensure that qualified beneficiaries are immediately relocated after the submission of the list to the NHA.
He added that the NHA has allotted 25,000 housing units for the city`s squatter families mostly those affected by the demolition of illegal structures and shanties located near transmission lines, sidewalks, esteros and major waterways.
Mayor Herbert Bautista stressed that the city government will continue to push the city`s advocacy for housing for local residents in need of decent homes to live in.
"We will do our best to fulfill our promise to relocate families living in danger zones," Bautista said.
He also directed city legal officer Christian Valencia to inquire from the Department of Finance, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas and Philippine Deposit Insurance Company the status of the 80-hectare Banco Filipino property in Barangay Payatas, a site that could accommodate 24,000 housing units once it is turned into a housing project by the local government.
Bautista said he expects thousands of the city`s informal settlers to benefit from the housing units being offered to them by NHA. Aside from the NHA housing project, the city government is also offering two other options for informal settlers to choose from.
Two other options are to resettle in the city`s socialized housing units either in Payatas, a housing project to be built by Habitat for Humanity or Kaligayahan by Phinma Properties and the "Balik Probinsya" program.
Under the socialized housing project, Phinma is set to construct more than 800 housing units at the Arce homesite in Barangay Kaligayan while the Habitat for Humanity will build almost 400 units at the Oviedo homesite in Payatas.
Bautista added that more policemen, teachers, firemen, jail officers and other government employees could avail themselves of the city`s socialized housing once it is completed next year.
The mayor expects the bulk of informal settler`s families living in danger zones to be accommodated in the NHA housing sites either in San Jose Del Monte or in Montalban (Rodriguez, Rizal).
He also ordered to fast track the development of the city`s big socialized housing projects, the first ever in the history of local government units in line with his pro-poor program of building housing communities for the city`s underprivileged residents.
As this developed, with the heavy rains prevailing in the metropolis, a Quezon City councilor asked the city`s informal dwellers living near the danger zones to voluntarily vacate the area for their safety.
Councilor Jimmy Borres of the third district of Quezon City said that squatters` cooperation is necessary to avert untoward incidents like deaths or serious injuries in times of natural calamities.
He reminded them that by being law abiding citizens "they are doing the country a great deal of service`` since a huge burden of the emergency and rescue groups are stricken off their shoulders.
"Malaking bagay ang maitutulong ng mga mahal natin kababayan kung makikipagtulungan sila sa pamahalaan. Kaya po nagsusumaamo po ako para sa inyong kaligtasan na lisanin niyo nap o ng kusa ang mga lugar na malapit sa daang tubig lalo na ngayong panahon ng tag-ulan, (It would be a big help if the citizens cooperates with the government. I`m appealing to you to voluntarily leave the danger zone this rainy season for your safety``) Borres noted.
Borres called on informal settlers to cooperate and submit themselves to the census by the National Statistics Office and other legal authorities to facilitate the granting of assistance to legitimate beneficiaries.
Joselito Cabungcal, chief of the Quezon City Engineering Department (QCED, said that his team`s efforts to clean the canals, creeks, rivers and other waterways are hampered by the presence of illegal structures. He noted that collecting household and industrial discards from the drainage systems and waterways would have been much easier without the illegally constructed structures near the danger zones.