THE first batch of informal settler families living along the San Juan River moved Monday to their new homes in a resettlement area in Barangay Muzon, San Jose del Monte City, Bulacan.
Squatters or informal settlers usually defy efforts by authorities to relocate them, but the 87 families in Barangay Salapan, San Juan City willingly moved out and the resettlement went without incident.
Among those relocated is Salapan Barangay Chairman Boy dela Cruz.
The San Juan city government expects to relocate at least 100 families living in what are considered as high-risk sites every day.
“It’s best that the residents are transferred before the rains come,” said San Juan Mayor Guia Gomez, who attended the send-off ceremonies for the informal settlers along with Interior Secretary Mar Roxas, Public Works Secretary Rogelio Singson, Metropolitan Manila Development Authority Chairman Francis Tolentino, Social Welfare Secretary Dinky Soliman.
It was learned that the families were given entry passes and underwent biometrics registration so they could claim their homes in the resettlement areas. Before their relocation, the families were given a tour of their new homes.
Each family will pay P200 a month for their homes only a year after their relocation.
The national government has identified eight major waterways that have to be cleared of residents before the year ends.
Vice President and housing czar Jejomar Binay on Saturday said 4,800 housing units are ready to take in the families living in dangerous areas along waterways in Metro Manila.
Binay said the resettlement site has basic facilities such as water and electricity, health center and a school.
The seven-kilometer San Juan River winds through the cities of San Juan, Mandaluyong and Quezon.
In San Juan City, Barangays Salapan, Balong Bato, Rivera, Progreso, Batis, Kabayanan, Maytunas, and Ermitaño, will be cleared of about 600 informal settlers whose makeshift dwellings are inside the river’s three-meter easement.
Based on NHA data, Metro Manila has 104,219 informal settler families living in danger zones, and about 60,130 of them occupy major waterways.
In 2011, President Aquino Benigno 3rd launched a five-year, P50-billion housing program for informal settlers living in danger areas in Metro Manila.
Aside from the 4,800 housing units now ready for occupancy, 4,200 more will be completed by December.