Slums taint Pasay City’s progress

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Conclusion

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PASAY City may have shed its “sin city” label and become a tourist destination in Metro Manila, but officials are having a hard time curbing the proliferation of informal settlers and slum settlements.

Based on 2011statistics, there are 34,450 informal settlers families (ISF) living in Pasay.

A year before that, there were 32,829, an increase of 1,620 families in a year’s time.

The squatter colonies are found along Pasay’s creeks such as the Tripa de Galina and Maricaban, in portions of Gotamco St., inside the Sgt. Mariano Cemetery and other areas.

Some 18,000 families occupy properties owned by local and national government agencies such as the Manila International Airport, while 300 more live in areas earmarked for government projects like the Skyway Phase 3, and another 12,250 occupy private properties.

Paul S. Vega, head of Pasay’s Urban Development and Housing Office, said the squatter problem is being addressed by resettling the families, especially those who are living in waterways.

“It’s a problem and it is a major concern of the city. We are hoping that with the help of the national government, we can clear them by March 2014,” Vega said.

Mayor Antonio Calixto has vowed to “provide individuals and families affordable, decent and humane housing with access to social services and economic opportunities towards a fully productive and dignified community life.”

To realize this mission, the city government adopted the Comprehensive Shelter Plan where squatters will be provided housing in viable and sustainable communities.

If the relocation is out of the city such as the Tanay Relocation Project, the employment and livelihood opportunities for the families will be prioritized.

“Providing them livelihood opportunities will prevent professional squatting where beneficiaries leave their homes in the relocation project and go back to the city and become informal settlers again. We want to give them access to their sources of income near their new homes,” Calixto said.

Pasay Housing Development Board Executive Director Oliver Johanes Natividad said the housing program takes into account the other concerns of informal settlers, such as access to schools, places of worship, hospitals and basic service utilities like water, electricity and communication.

Natividad said assistance to the families includes financial aid, development of relocation housing projects, construction of medium-rise buildings and on-site development of housing units that suit the needs of the beneficiaries.

“We are optimistic because we already made headway in meeting our targets in a year’s time. Our housing projects will soon benefit our informal settlers within a year and the years thereafter,” he added.

Six sites have been chosen for resettlement: the Bases Conversion Development Authority property, Cuyegkeng property, Villa Barbara property, F Cruz, Malibay property all in Pasay city and the 10-hectare relocation site in Tanay, Rizal province.

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