The national government is reportedly planning to relocate the illegal settlers living in shanties near major waterways in Metro Manila to make way for flood-preventing systems.

According to an article by Inquirer.com, Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo said that President Aquino was already asked to set aside P10 billion for the massive project, which he estimates will take five years to complete.

Roberedo also said that they had already made an inventory of the informal settlers in the city. Public Works Secretary Rogelio Singson said he had already identified 125,000 families living on waterways in the capital, and 60,000 to 70,000 on waterways around Laguna de Bay. The government is on the lookout for probable places where they can be relocated, which is what the law mandates.

“The law also stipulated that the resettlement areas should be within the city or at least near the city. This is the (policy) that we should observe,” Robredo said. “The challenge is for the government to ensure that these solutions to the flood problem would be fully implemented because we cannot just turn our back and abandon the projects.”

According to Vice-President and National Housing Authority chair Jejomar Binay, medium-rise buildings (MRBs) will serve as permanent relocation sites for the displaced poor will be built on the appropriated lands. “While the MRBs are still to be constructed, the most viable option for relocating these families would be to use the available resettlement sites on a temporary basis.”

However, this project was met by protests from the urban poor sector. Urban Poor Associates executive director Denis Murphy had expressed his doubts on the great number of families who are set to be relocated.

“I think no more than 10,000 families had to be moved for the sake of flooding. We can go together, and look at each estero. Do these people have to be moved? If they don’t, can their housing be improved? If they have to be moved, OK, move them.”

Migrante International Chair Garry Martinez likewise slammed the project, saying that the government had “no heart, no consideration, and empty bravado.”

“They are forcing urban poor families to self-evict to where?” Martinez asked. “Are there decent houses waiting for them? Even the government’s relocation sites are flood-prone and more dangerous.”


(Photo by Sustainable Sanitation via Flickr Creative Commons)

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