Northrail relocatees struggle for a living

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Salve Mapada, 34, has been living in NorthVille 9, a relocation site in Barangay Bagbag Calumpit, Bulacan for almost 7 years. But she has yet to pay a single month of her amortization to the government.

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She was part of over 50 percent of housing beneficiaries in the North and South Rail settlement sites nationwide who do not pay their monthly amortization, according to the Commission on Audit (COA) report in 2010.

And it is likely that Mapada, a housewife, would not be able to pay her housing obligations because of financial constraints.

Mapada, a former gardener in San Marcos, Malolos City, said she and her neighbors have lost their livelihood following their transfer to the area. And 7 years later, they are still struggling to make a living.

Mapada was among the over 200,000 informal settlers in Luzon who were affected by the relocation required for the construction of $503-million North Luzon Railways (NorthRail) project that aimed to connect Metro Manila and Central Luzon. The project, however, was scrapped in 2012 by its contractor China National Machinery Industry Corporation over legal problems.

The affected families of the cancelled project were relocated across Bulacan, Valenzuela City, and Caloocan City.

Mapada said life in NorthVille has been hard for them in the past years, with no livelihood opportunities offered to them by the government. She said trying to survive in the place with their meager income is a “challenge.”

Her husband, Roque, is a gardener in Borneo, Calumpit, but she said his P200 daily income is not enough for the needs of their family with six children.

No water provision
Adding to their daily expenses is the water supply, which she said is a provision in the housing program that was never realized by the government.

She said almost all of them in the Phase 1 and Phase 2 of NorthVille 9 have no decent water supply until now. They have to get their water needs from their neighbors who managed to get a water contract through their own means.

According to the Republic Act No. 7279 or the Urban Development and Housing Act (UDHA) of 1992, water is among the basic services that should be provided by the National Housing Authority (NHA) or the local government units to housing beneficiaries.

Other basic services include electricity supply, sewerage facilities, and access to roads and transportation facilities.

But Mary Joy Sarte, also a resident of NorthVille for 5 years, said the provision of water supply was only discussed in the early days of their relocation, and they never heard again from NHA regarding the issue.

“Water is part of our budget every day. We buy it at P3 per container, and we use at least 7 to 8 containers every day,” she said.

What Mapada, along with her neighbors like Maricel Frias, is hoping for is the government would look at their current condition and address their needs.

While they are grateful for the housing that was offered to them, Frias, 49, said they also need other support like livelihood.

“We are willing to pay our monthly amortization. We understand that it is our duty as housing beneficiaries. But we have no means,” Frias, a laundrywoman, said.

By the coming months, they said they are facing another challenge with
the enrollment of their children, but they vowed to do everything just to send their children in school.

“We need to survive. And we will,” Mapada said.

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