Expanding Jesse Robredo’s legacy, Pangilinan pushes for in-city relocation of informal settlers

August 18, 2019

Kiko wants poor Filipinos, not foreigners, to have first dibs on decent housing in the metro

MANILA — Why do foreigners have first dibs on condos while destitute Filipinos are jam-packed in shanties in the country’s urban centers?

To give poor Filipinos their right to decent housing in the metropolis and to honor the late Jesse Robredo, Senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan seeks to institutionalize and expand the governance guru’s on-site, in-city relocation for informal settlers.

In Senate Bill 690, or the proposed On-Site, In-City, Near-City Resettlement Act, Pangilinan noted that between 2011 and 2016, less than half (3,656 of 8,644 informal-settler families) have moved to new homes constructed by the National Housing Authority (NHA) as around 83% of these housing units were too far from their place of work or source of livelihood.

The measure seeks to amend the Urban Development Housing Act of 1992 (Republic Act 7279) to prioritize on-site or in-city resettlement for informal-settler families.

“Yung mga banyagang nagtatrabaho nga rito sa atin, may sariling pa-condo na malapit sa kanilang pinagtatrabahuhan. Yung kapwa natin Pilipino, pinagbibiyahe pa natin sa napakalalayong lugar para lang makapag-hanapbuhay (How come foreign workers here are even provided condos to be near their workplace while our fellow Filipinos are forced to take a long commute just to earn a living?),” Pangilinan pointed out.

“Ayaw natin silang nakatira sa malayong lugar na walang pagkakakitaan, o malala pa, walang komunidad (We don’t want to put them in far-flung places where there are no livelihood opportunities, worse, no communities),” he said.

Jesse Robredo, when he was Secretary of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), pioneered the program, with the participation of non-government organizations (NGOs). The husband of Vice President Leni Robredo is remembered today, as he died on 18 August 2012 in a plane crash.

Under Jesse Robredo’s program and the proposed law, persons living in danger zones like esteros, railroad tracks, garbage dumps, riverbanks, shorelines, waterways, and the like shall be relocated nearby — this time within two years of the effectivity of the law.

The responsibility is shared by local government units, the national government, NGOs, and the informal settlers themselves.

In Jesse Robredo’s P4.4-billion program, at least 10,477 informal-settler families were able to 14 new communities near their original abodes.

The bill pitches for a relocation plan that guarantees “safe, affordable, decent and humane condition of relocation, incorporating therein appropriate disaster risk reduction management and climate change adaptation standards.”

Stressing people’s right to decent housing, the bill also reiterates the illegality of forced evictions and the need for consultation with affected residents already contained in UDHA.

“Bawat tao kailangan ng maayos na tahanan, karapatan natin ito (Decent housing is a human need and therefore is a human right),” Pangilinan said.

“In celebration of Secretary Robredo’s life and legacy, we commit to do all we can to see this bill through passage,” Pangilinan said.