• Basic services, livelihood to settlers eyed under new bill

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    SENATOR Grace Poe has filed a bill that will mandate local government units (LGUs) to provide basic services and livelihood components in resettlement sites for informal settler families (ISFs).

    Poe, in filing Senate Bill 1216, recognizes the essential role of housing in ensuring human dignity, especially for the poor and the need for the government to address the precarious situation that homeless families are facing.

    The proposed measure seeks to amend Republic Act (RA) 7279 or the Urban Development and Housing Act of 1992, particularly providing for critical mechanisms that empower ISFs and make them active partners in planning and management of their own resettlement.

    Poe said cited a need for “adequate and genuine consultation” in the process of resettlement of ISFs since existing laws still do not sufficiently protect the rights of ISF particularly lack of consultation with affected ISFs and increasing resort to off-site resettlement.

    The senator in her proposal is seeking formulation of “people’s plan” by ISF beneficiary-associations containing a site development plan including self-help housing cooperatives, livelihood, self-help development and capacity- building training.

    Poe noted that there are about 1.5 million ISFs across the Philippines, with 40 percent or 600,000 of homeless families concentrated in Metro Manila.

    According to the National Housing Authority, 73,723 housing units (85.54 percent) were constructed off-site for ISFs, while only 12,464 units (14.46 percent) were built in-city

    “ISFs are hardly consulted on their needs and concerns. They are mostly relocated to ‘off-site’ resettlement areas that lack basic services such as electricity, potable water, functional transport systems and adequate employment opportunities, contrary to the intent of RA 7279,” Poe said.

    JEFFERSON ANTIPORDA

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