17,900 illegal settlers get condo units as reward

By Fernan J. Angeles 

IT pays to be an illegal settler. Especially, if you chose to occupy a government-owned property!

In what appears to be an ironic approach in dealing with the problem on the sprawling squatter colonies in Metro Manila, the government is bent on rewarding some 17,900 families with condominium units for squatting on a government property in Quezon City. 

 

Compensation for informal settlers

At the House committee hearing on Metro Manila developments, agency officials from various government offices were debating as to how the government should ‘compensate’ families that would be affected by the construction of the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX) Harborlink Segment 10 project. 

Rep. Winnie Castelo, chairman of the house committee on Metro Manila developments, cited the need to protect the interest of their constituents in Quezon City where part of the infrastructure project would pass. 

‘Maraming nagrereklamo. Marami ng tatamaan ... yung project. So we’re here to discuss on how we’re gonna do with it. We’re very concerned on their situation and we’ve been receiving a lot of complaints’, says Castelo in his opening statement. 

 

P17-billion fund

At the hearing, inter-agency members hinted on a P17-billion buffer fund which the National Housing Authority (NHA) claimed is already available. 

NHA Assistant General Manager Roderick Ibanez said that P17 billion fund would be used exclusively for the resettlement of some 18,000 families who are on the list of the government’s official census of residents in Quezon City’s 2nd congressional district.

The said area would be directly affected by the on-going construction of the NLEX Harborlink Segment 10 project. 

 

Two options

Ibanez said that they are working to start relocation by June this year adding that the affected families would be given two options – an off-site relocation and an in-city settlement. 

Off-site relocation refers to the process in which the affected families would be taken out of the city and brought to a place (usually far from where they have lived for the past years as informal settlers) where each of the ‘displaced families’ would be given a housing unit. 

In-city settlement, Ibanez explained, would see the affected families transferred to a re-settlement facility within the city. 

 

Condominium units

In the case of affected families from Quezon City’s 2nd congressional district, they stand to get condominium units in the government’s planned high-rise vertical structure. 

Ibanez said that the planned high-rise housing facility would be built in the vicinity of the squatter colony that stands path to the elevated highway project. 

NHA placed the cost of each housing unit for the off-site relocation to be P700,000 each, while the in-city resettlement is valued at P390,000. 

Interestingly, the families which the government intends to provide condominium units in their in-city resettlement facility have long been squatting on a land owned by the Philippine National Railways (PNR).

 

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