105,000 ‘Settlers’ Live Near Creeks

MANILA, Philippines - Some 105,000 of 580,000 informal settlers in Metro Manila live near di¬saster-prone areas, Vice President Jejomar C. Binay said yesterday.

In a speech during the Conference for National Informal Settlement Upgrading Strategies at a hotel in Manila, Binay said that the figure represents the informal settlers living along creeks and waterways.

Binay, chairman of the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC), said that the government is now taking urgent measures to relocate the informal settlers in danger areas noting that more lives and properties are lost or endangered due to the impacts of climate change.

"In 2009, typhoons Ondoy and Pepeng ravaged the country. They caused extensive flooding that severely affected over 9.3 million people out of an estimated population of 43.2 million living in the affected regions. The two typhoons left about 220,000 homes completely destroyed or partially damaged by floodwaters in Metro Manila and across Luzon," Binay said.

"Mostly affected was the informal sector, which consisted of makeshift dwellings located in flood-prone areas. And who could forget the effects of the more recent and proba¬bly more destructive Sendong? The images of the victims and the areas ravaged by this typhoon are still etched in our minds," he added.

Binay earlier revealed the plan of the government to build medium-rise buildings for the relocation of informal settlers leaving near danger areas in Metro Manila.

The housing czar said that putting up medium-rise buildings is more practical since it would save space and admit more families.

Binay said some 20,000 housing units a year in the next five years will be built for informal settlers particularly the victims of natural calamities such as tropical storm "Ondoy" in 2009.

National Housing Authority (NHA) general manager Chito M. Cruz said "effectively, this is another 20,000 housing units per year for the next five years."

"This shall be undertaken in the next five years in coordination with local government units as well as communities that will be relocated and other stakeholders," Cruz said.

The program will initially cover Quezon City, Manila, Pasay and other key cities in the National Capital Region, he said, particularly those living near waterways and riverbanks.

Cruz explained that the NHA is tasked Under Republic Act 7279 or the Urban Development and Hous¬ing Act of 1992 to relocate families living in danger zones in coordina¬tion with LGUs.

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