Government ahead of schedule in relocating ISFs from danger areas –NHA

By Catherine J. Teves

MANILA, June 13 (PNA) — National Housing Authority (NHA) sees possibly completing — ahead of schedule — shelter for some 104,000 informal settler-families (ISFs) Malacanang ordered relocated from Metro Manila’s danger areas.

NHA General Manager Chito Cruz noted the relocation program is a five-year undertaking from 2012 to 2016 but this agency already finished building, in just two years, about 55,000 dwelling units (DUs) for half the number of target ISF-beneficiaries.

“If we built that many DUs in two years only, we might complete the work in four years,” he said.

Cruz said NHA built about 25,000 DUs in the program’s first year of implementation.

NHA built another 30,000 DUs in the program’s second year, he added.

Malacanang earlier ordered implementation of its Php 50 billion relocation program for Metro Manila’s ISFs to help protect life, limb and property.

The program targets annually relocating to safer ground some 20,000 of the ISFs.

Government set an annual funding of Php 10 billion for the purpose.

Funding NHA already received for the undertaking totaled some Php 8 billion, said Cruz.

He noted government can save about Php 10 billion if NHA continues building more DUs at less cost and in a shorter period.

Under the relocation program, government provides one DU per ISF-beneficiary at long-term amortization rates the family can afford.

At NHA’s Towerville resettlement project in Bulacan province, the agency said maximum monthly amortization for an ISF-beneficiary’s rowhouse and lot DU package won’t exceed Php 800.

Malacanang ordered relocation of the ISFs as Metro Manila, like other areas in the Philippines, faces threats from hazards like tropical cyclones and earthquakes.

Both hazards can trigger landslides and flashfloods.

Experts also expect the projected rise in global temperature from 2°C to 4°C to worsen climate change and its impacts on the country.

Such impacts are increasing onslaught of weather extremes as well as sea level and temperature rise, they said.

Of the total target ISF-beneficiaries for relocation until 2016, government prioritized transferring to safer ground about 19,440 ISFs along eight major Metro Manila waterways.

These waterways and their number of target ISF-beneficiaries there are Pasig River (1,434 ISFs), San Juan River (4,217 ISFs), Tullahan River (3,683 ISFs), Manggahan Floodway (2,997 ISFs), Maricaban Creek (1,637 ISFs), Tripa de Gallina (3,887 ISFs), Estero de Sunog Apog (170 ISFs) and Estero de Maypajo (1,415 ISFs).

Government prioritized ISFs there as pollution, constricted water flow, clogged drainage and reduced water-carrying capacity characterize the waterways, making these prone to overflows that flood surrounding communities, including informal settlements.

Aside from moving the ISFs to safer ground in either in-city or off-city relocation sites, Cruz said relocating these will enable government to clean up the waterways.

He said the clean up will help address water pollution and facilitate flow of water there, lessening the possibility for flooding.

ISFs along San Juan River comprised the first batch of families NHA began relocating last year, noted Cruz.

Authorities said 10.58 km-long San Juan River starts in Quezon City, passes through Manila and San Juan City then ends in Mandaluyong City where it drains into Pasig River.

Cruz said NHA already relocated most of the ISFs along San Juan River.

NHA continues working to relocate ISFs that remain in part of the river’s segment traversing Quezon City, he added. (PNA)