Palace: No de­mo­li­tion of shanties ‘even if we speak of in­fra­struc­ture projects’

Business World - - THE NATION - Lu­cia Edna P. de Guz­man

FOL­LOW­ING THE re­cent oc­cu­pa­tion by mil­i­tant group Kalipunan ng Da­mayang Mahi­hi­rap (Kadamay) of so­cial­ized hous­ing units in Pandi, Bu­la­can, an of­fi­cial on ur­ban-poor con­cerns in a Mala­cañang brief­ing on Thurs­day called for the aban­don­ment of off-site resettlement of squat­ters.

Chair­per­son Terry L. Ri­don of the Pres­i­den­tial Com­mis­sion for the Ur­ban Poor (PCUP) also af­firmed, cit­ing Pres­i­dent Ro­drigo R. Duterte him­self, that there will be no de­mo­li­tion of squat­ter com­mu­ni­ties with­out re­lo­ca­tion.

“The Bu­la­can in­ci­dent gives us fur­ther re­solve within the hous­ing agen­cies to push for on- site and in- city resettlement as the main mode of resettlement of in­for­mal set­tler fam­i­lies af­fected by pub­lic in­fra­struc­ture projects, court or­ders or dis­as­ter-in­duced re­lo­ca­tion,” Mr. Ri­don said in his open­ing state­ment on Thurs­day’s Palace brief­ing.

“Off-site resettlement should be aban­doned as a main mode of resettlement and should only be used as a last re­sort, par­tic­u­larly in view of the costs of eco­nomic dis­lo­ca­tion of in­for­mal set­tler fam­i­lies and the costs of cre­at­ing an en­tirely off-site new town­ship with full ser­vices, util­i­ties and liveli­hood,” he added.

While he ac­knowl­edged that in-city hous­ing would be more ex­pen­sive than off-site, Mr. Ri­don also noted that, be­cause jobs and schools are lo­cated in the city, “ul­ti­mately, in terms of costs, they would be equal.”

Cit­ing his agency’s man­date as hav­ing “the fi­nal clear­ance for all the de­mo­li­tions par­tic­u­larly for in­fra projects,” Mr. Ri­don as­sured that the ad­min­is­tra­tion’s Build, Build, Build scheme would not in­fringe on the rights of ur­ban poor in­for­mal set­tlers.

“Un­der the lead­er­ship of the Pres­i­dent, he has made it clear that there will be no de­mo­li­tions with­out re­lo­ca­tion,” Mr. Ri­don said. “So even if we speak about big-ticket in­fra­struc­ture projects, I think part of the spend­ing will most def­i­nitely be made to­wards re­lo­ca­tion of many of the af­fected in­for­mal set­tler fam­i­lies.”

A fel­low ac­tivist of Kadamay and a party-list con­gress­man be­fore join­ing the Duterte ad­min­is­tra­tion, Mr. Ri­don also ex­pressed grat­i­tude on be­half of the gov­ern­ment’s hous­ing agen­cies that the hous­ing sit­u­a­tion has been placed on the spot­light: “And sa to­too lang, nag­pa­pasala­mat pa nga ho ’yung maram­ing mga ahen­sya dahil na­ganap po ito. Tala­gang na- put into the spot­light, na tala­gang meron pong mga ba­hay na walang tao, saman­ta­lang maram­ing tao na walang ba­hay.” —

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