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Robredo: Act on informal settlers

Manila, Philippines – Seventeen Metro Manila mayors have been directed to seriously act on the long overdue clearing of 125,000 informal settlers occupying waterways, esteros, bridges and other hazard zones in the metropolis, regularly affected during massive flooding.

The metro manila mayors received the directive during a meeting with Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Jesse Robredo, Public Works and Highways Secretary Rogelio Singson, Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) chairman Francis Tolentino.

Robredo said he will issue a memorandum circular by Friday, directing mayors to clear the waterways in step with the national government’s plan to relocate informal settlers from danger zones.

“We will give time for informal settlers to vacate otherwise we will remove them,” Robredo said.

Citing immediate need, Robredo said each LGU have been urged to search for lands where the informal settlers can be relocated temporarily or avail the government housing.

For their part, the mayors unanimously approved strict implementation of the government plan.

Bautista said there are 5,000 families living along five waterways in the city, ready for relocation.

However, he added, “relocation sites ang hindi prepared, as long as the national government prepares these houses, we can start the relocation.”

Caloocan mayor Recom Echiverri admitted that many of informal settlers are not receptive to being moved out.

“But still we must ensure that relocation must be done in a humane and compassionate way,” he added.

Singson said among the priority areas are those living in creeks and along Pasig River and San Juan River as they serve as obstructions to the easy flow of water.

“No blasting of houses on waterways would be done but in a correct process,” he added.

Based on their inventory, there are 125,000 families residing in waterways in Metro Manila plus 62,000 families around Laguna Lake.

Singson noted that a strong political will is needed on this urgent task and should not be hindered by the upcoming midterm elections.

After the clearing, Singson said government’s next move will be the river improvement works along Pasig-Marikina River channel.

Singson said structures along waterways reduce the capacity of river systems to hold rainwater.

With the passage of time, the Pasig River, whose major tributaries are the Marikina River and San Juan River, have become heavily silted that also contribute to severe flooding all over the metropolis.

Marikina City mayor Del De Guzman said city residents would benefit the dredging of along Pasig-Marikina river channel.

“The surge of floodwaters from the Montalban River swells the Marikina River, which is heavily silted,” said De Guzman. (Anna Liza T. Villas)

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