Vice President Jejomar Binay on Wednesday warned that informal settlements will continue to rise unless joblessness in rural areas is addressed.
He said migration to urban areas will not stop if there is no economic progress in the countryside.
In his speech at the launching of the National Housing and Urban Development Summit in Valenzuela, Binay cited data from the National Housing Authority showing that there were 1.5 million informal settler families in the Philippines in 2011 with more than 580,000 living in Metro Manila alone.
“At present, almost fifty percent of our population already lives in urban areas. And this is expected to further increase in the next decade,” Binay said.
He added that the problem of urban migration is further complicated because squatters settle on danger zones. Thus, the country’s housing problem also extends to communities where people are forced to live in danger areas.
To address this problem, Binay said the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC), with the help of World Bank and the cities alliance developed the National Informal Settlements Upgrading Strategy (NISUS) in 2014.
The NISUS contains strategic recommendations on guiding future land development with the following crucial elements: city-wide development; climate change adaptation (CCA) and disaster risk reduction management (DRRM); selective resettlement with compensation within a sustainable new town framework; informal settlements upgrading with secure tenure; targeted subsidies based on income; urban renewal; and improving sector governance, among others.
The vice president said the NISUS treats informal settlers and informal settlements “as contributors instead of just beneficiaries” allowing them to take part in finding solutions to their problems.
“Instead of viewing urbanization and population growth as challenges, let us look at them as opportunities. In the same way, with regard to informal settler families, instead of seeing them as the problem, we should look at them as the very same people who can solve the nagging problem of informality with help from us in government, the private sector and civil society,” he said.
“We can either just continue tearing them down and relocating the residents elsewhere, or we can transform them into formal urban residents in resilient, vibrant and connected communities,” Binay added.