Informal settlers’ mandatory on-site, in-city, near-city relocation okayed

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A mandatory on-site, in-city and near-city relocation for informal settlers is a step closer to becoming a law.

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This became possible after the House of Representatives by 221 votes approved House Bill (HB) 5347, which also obligates the government to come up with a People’s Plan as a requirement for the relocation program in order to allow beneficiaries of the relocation sites to participate in the process.

“Future relocation beneficiaries will no longer have to suffer the consequences of living far away from urban centers once the bill passes into law. This is in line with our vision of providing safe, affordable and decent housing for all Filipinos, especially the urban poor,” Rep. Tomasito Villarin of Akbayan party-list, an author of the measure, said in a statement.

Villarin added that HB 5347 would ensure not just the quantity of public housing, but its quality as well.

“Living far from cities means living far from basic services, utilities and most important, jobs. That’s the bigger gap that we want to address. There is no better plan other than what is crafted by the people themselves,” he said.

The housing backlog in the country recently took the spotlight after 5,000 members of the Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap (Kadamay) last March 10 occupied idle government-built houses in Pandi, Bulacan that were meant for policemen, soldiers and firemen.

The standoff between the authorities and Kadamay ended when President Rodrigo Duterte gave the unoccupied houses to the group’s members who have taken over the units.

He promised that the government will build better houses for members of the police and the military.

In an interview during an inspection by lawmakers of the Pandi housing units, Kadamay Chairman Gloria Arellano noted that Kadamay members exhausted all means in fighting for their right to shelter.

“What they are telling us is [paying]monthly amortization. As it is, the Kadamay members are in crisis, that’s why they occupied these houses. We still have to talk about such payment,” Arellano told reporters in Filipino. LLANESCA T. PANTI

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