AT LEAST 3,000 families in Lapasan village, Cagayan de Oro, are expected to be displaced once the National Government starts the construction of its waterways projects in the area, a shelter and housing consultant of the City Government said Wednesday, January 25.
City Shelter and Housing Department consultant Ermin Pimentel said that these 3,000 families are included in the 2013 report of the Task Force Shelter which states that the city has over 34,000 families who have yet to own a house.
"Dili man intawon maka-afford ang siyudad nga buhusan niya, mahurot gyud ang P4.5 billion annual budget kung ibuhos tanan sa housing project (The City Government can’t afford, the 4.5 billion annual budget will be exhausted if all will be used for housing project)," Pimentel said.
This year, Pimentel said the city has poured some P100 million to the housing department to initially address the backlog.
The amount will be used to procure a 60-hectare land in the villages of Lumbia and Indahag area, which Pimentel said, can provide houses up to 5,000 homeless families in the city.
Pimentel pointed out that the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) included the housing component in its planning, addressing the backlog would not be hard since, he said, the National Government would assist in searching for solutions.
"This is already on the table, and this time, ang among i-priority is ang mga (our priority are those) illegal settlers nga naigo sa (that were affected by the) waterways projects ug anaa nagpuyo sa (and living in) danger zones," Pimentel said.
"Among gi-raise sa ila nganong wala sa ilang component ang relocation kay ang ma-maximize sa local government is pagpalit sa yuta raman gyud, ang housing component sa national na siya (We ask why they don’t have the component of relocation since the local government can only maximize the acquirement of land, the housing component is national)," he said.
"We don't blame them but gi-pressure ta nila (they pressured us), we understand pud nga ang (that the) local government gyud ang (is) responsible sa pag-relocate (for relocating), but kung napresent pa nila sa (if they presented it to) national level ang problema, mas paspas man gyud unta ang process kay syempre (the processing should have been speed up)we have agencies like National Home Mortgage and housing construction," he said.
DPWH secretary Mark Villar, in his visit here, recognized that illegal settlers living along where the project will be built are major factors why projects are delayed.
Villar cited the need to coordinate with the local government unit (LGU) to solve this particular issue.
Vinah Mahinay, DPWH spokesperson, said that by the start of 2017, DPWH has four creek-diversion projects in progress which aims to lessen the overflowing of water in the city's urban areas.
These projects include the 1.5-kilometer diversion of the Bitan-ag Creek to Kolambog Creek, the 1.5-kilometer diversion of Sapang Creek to Macalajar Bay using the road to the west-bound terminal, the 500-meter diversion of Sapang Creek at the NHA village in Kauswagan, and the 500-meter diversion of Sapang Creek at Apovel Subdivision in Bulua village.
According to Mahinay, these projects are only in the first phase and await further funding, planning, feasibility studies, and approval.
Recently, DPWH-Northern Mindanao director Evelyn Barroso has proposed an additional 300 million funding for the completion of these creek-diversion projects.
"The ones you see in the Agora, Carmen, and NHA (National Housing Authorities) areas are actually only partial and initial stages. By August 2016, feasibility studies are started and are still in continuation to find out what parts of the city needs improvements or installments of drainage systems," Mahinay said.
These creek-diversion projects are targeted to be completed within two to three years, Mahinay said.
Mahinay admitted that the informal settlers, especially those near the Bitan-ag Creek, cannot be provided with relocation sites. The same can be said to other properties and settlers in the other project areas.
"As of now, we are sure that there is a need for relocation for the informal settlers in Bitang-ag Creek. In the other areas, however, we still haven't determined the private properties or informal settlers that will be affected. The lack of relocation sites is actually one of the biggest issues that we are facing with regards to the continuation of these projects," Mahinay said.
The issue of the relocation and survey will be handled by the NHA and the LGU once DPWH has determined the areas where the projects will pass through, Mahinay added.
Kalipinan ng Damayang Mahihirap (Kadamay) spokesperson Francis Pagayaman said the LGU should be held responsible for failing to address this problem.
"Dunay kakulangon ang LGU kabahin sa relocation. Kadto paman gane sa Sendong, naa pay almost 2,000 nga wala pa gyud ma-relocate, plus madungagan nasad karon ug kining mga biktima sa baha nga nawad-an ug mga balay (The LGU failed to relocate them. At the time of Sendong, there were almost 2,000 who were not yet relocated plus the recent victims of flooding)," he said.
"Sige ra madungagan ang number sa mga walay balay, so ingani nalang gyud ta pirmi maghulat napud ta ug naa napud sunod nga disaster mahitabo ug madungagan napud ang figure (The number of homeless families are increasing, will the situation repeat wherein we wait until another disaster comes and the figures increase again)?" Pagayaman said.
Pagayaman also urged local authorities to intensify their campaign against climate change, saying that disasters are worsening.
"Abusado man gyud ang tao so kinahanglan pud assistahan sa atong mga opisyales kay sila man ang nakabalo (People are abusive so the officials have to assist them since they are the ones knowledgeable)," Pagayaman said.
Roger Bolanon, president of the Urban Poor, pointed out the need for livelihood in relocation sites.
He said the residents keep coming back to their former houses as sustainable livelihood is not available in their new homes.
Bolanon said while efforts are being done by the City Government to provide livelihood programs but these are not enough.
"Daghan mga housing units na mabiyaan lang gihapon kay tungod walay livelihood programs. For example, gikan sila sa Indahag, mubalik sa Macasandig or Consolacion kanang duol sa suba kay naa ilang panginabuhi didto. Dapat kini malantaw (Residents keep coming back to their former houses as sustainable livelihood is not available in their new homes. For example, they came from Indahag, they will come back to Macasandig or Consolacion since their livelihood is there)," he said.
Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on January 26, 2017.