Vice President and housing czar Jejomar Binay blamed the proliferation of illegal settlers to the gross inaction of local government officials.
“Local government official ako nang matagal. Alam namin na may responsibilidad kami diyan. Inaction is an offense,” Binay, who served as mayor of Makati City for 24 years, said.
Binay, also the concurrent chairman of the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council, warned that local chief executives who allow the number of illegal settlers to balloon could be slapped administrative sanctions.
“I suppose at least may warning ‘yon. Kasi inaction ‘yon, ‘yong tolerance,” the vice president added.
He, however, admitted that the country’s policy on putting an end to illegal settling had been inconsistent.
“Noong 1986 hanggang sa ‘90s, ilang beses binago. Oops, extension ng one year. Oops, walang tatanggalin. Oops, ‘yon nga, may eleksyon. May mga nangangako na hindi kayo [paaalisin]. Gagawan ng paraan, etcetera, etcetera. Yun naman ang mga nakaantala dun (From 1986 up to the ‘90s, it changed several times. Squatters were given extension and assurances that they will not be removed, and then there was and election. These were the reasons why their removal was postponed)” he said.
Binay stressed that the government should be firm in its policy on how to address the issue.
He also appealed to barangay (village) officials not to use the elections in October to tolerate illegal settling.
According to Binay, as of 2011, Metro Manila had 104,219 informal settler families living in dangerous areas, primarily waterways.
President Benigno Aquino 3rd earlier approved a P50 billion budget for the housing program for informal settlers.
The program, which is intended to be completed by 2016, provides in-city, near-city and off-city resettlement areas for squatters.
To date, the National Housing Authority has 10 multi-level low-rise housing projects in various stages of development and construction that will generate some 6, 426 housing units for Metro Manila’s informal settlers, Binay said.