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House body OKs informal settlers’ relocation

THE House committee on housing and urban development chaired by Cavite Rep. Strike Revilla has approved a substitute bill authorizing onsite relocation of thousands of informal settlers all over the country.

The measure is a consolidation of several proposed laws, including House Bill (HB) 4869 authored by Cagayan de Oro City Rep. Rufus Rodriguez.

The Mindanao lawmaker said the Constitution mandates the state to “undertake, in cooperation with the private sector, a continuing program of urban land reform and housing which will make available at affordable cost decent housing and basic services to underprivileged and homeless citizens in urban centers and resettlement areas.”

Citing a study by the University of Asia and the Pacific, Rodriguez said the country is projected to have a “housing need of 12.3 million by 2030.”

The same study found out that private developers were building homes mostly for the rich and the middle class, while the government was taking care of the housing needs of the poor, he said.

“The housing and resettlement policy is primarily offsite relocation. The government builds houses for informal settler families in areas outside Metro Manila or in rural areas in Cagayan de Oro, where there is lack of employment, sustainable livelihood and social services,” he added.

Rodriguez noted that many of those who had agreed to be relocated often returned to Metro Manila, CDO and other urban centers for jobs, hospitalization and other services.

Thus the need for onsite, in-city or near-city resettlement, which “upholds the urban poor’s right to the city in order to comply with our Constitution’s mandate to give Filipinos affordable and decent housing,” he stressed.

Under the consolidated bill approved by the housing committee, informal settler families and local government units (LGUs) would be extensively involved in the formulation of a resettlement plan for homeless citizens.

There would be sufficient consultations and hearings, where the affected families and civil society organizations, would be asked to participate.

The Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development, in tandem with LGUs, would be in charge of providing basic services and livelihood for relocated families.

Aside from Rodriguez and Revilla, the other authors of the consolidated bill are Representatives Jose Francisco Benitez of Negros Occidental, Jose Christopher Belmonte and Alfred Vargas of Quezon City, Ron Salo of Kabayan, Juan Fidel Nograles of Rizal, Jonh Marvin Nieto of Manila, Francis Gerald Abaya of Cavite, and Naealla Aguinaldo of Bahay.

Publication Source :    People's Tonight