Govt ‘insincere’ in vow to evacuate creek dwellers

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THE Aquino administration lacks the political will to deliver on its commitment to evacuate 7,092 informal settler families (ISFs) still living in dangerous rivers and creeks in urban Metro Manila (National Capital Region or NCR), according to the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines-Nagkaisa (TUCP-Nagkaisa).

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Disasters caused by extreme weather had prompted the government to evacuate 14,474 ISFs in Metro Manila but only 8,777 of them in danger areas were relocated.

The project Informal Settler Families Program (ISFP) is spearheaded by the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) with the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA), Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), National Housing Authority (NHA), Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) and Department of Natural Resources and Environment (DENR) as members.

Other members of the program are civil society organizations (CSO), urban poor groups and workers’ organizations.

Still to be evacuated after 14 months of the program’s implementation are the 7,092 ISFs living in rivers, creeks and waterways situated in 13 cities within urban NCR.

The TUCP-Nagkaisa, in a statement, claimed that the ISFP is beset by inter-government agency miscoordination and unavailability of land, among other problems, despite the release of the program’s P50-billion budget earlier this year.

Further delay of the ISFP is seen with the national ban prohibiting transfer of people four months before the May 2016 elections.

“It’s revolting to see poor working people and their families still in danger areas in Metro Manila waiting to be transferred to in- and off-city affordable housing units. Many of them are beginning to give up on government promise to transfer them. Some felt abandoned and decided to no longer cooperate,” said Gerard Seno, executive vice president of the Associated Labor Unions-Trade Union Congress of the Philippines

(ALU-TUCP). JING VILLAMENTE

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