41,000 informal settlers wait for land

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Saturday, April 12, 2014


CEBU CITY -- Years after the City Government started distributing lots to homeless constituents under its socialized housing program, at least 41,000 informal settlers are still awaiting relocation.

Some of the beneficiaries who have settled in some of the city’s socialized housing sites have started a new life in the upland barangays.

Records from the Division for the Welfare of the Urban Poor (DWUP) showed that some 10,000 of the total estimated number of informal settlers used to live beside creeks or in the easement zones of the rivers, which were considered as danger zones.

In 2011, DWUP conducted a city-wide barangay-based registration to know how many families were still homeless.

Right now, the City Government has lots declared as socialized housing site in 28 barangays of the city, two other sites in the barangays in Talisay and Mandaue, and another two in the towns of Minglanilla and Consolacion, respectively.

A total of 10,464 home lots were already distributed to 88 homeowners’ associations who availed themselves of the programs of the city. Most of the home lots are now occupied.

More squatters

But DWUP Chief Collin Rosell said the number of informal settlers may still increase, considering that the City has yet to control illegal squatting.

“The drive against professional squatting and the implementation of a housing program should go together to address the problem,” Rosell told Sun.Star Cebu.

In Barangay Budlaan, 11 homeowners’ associations now reside in the city lots declared as socialized housing sites.

Terry Lawas, 44, availed himself of the relocation program in 2006, after her house along McArthur St. in Barangay San Roque was demolished, with the construction of the South Road Properties (SRP) tunnel.

Lawas now lives in the Kapasar Phase II housing site in Barangay Budlaan.

“Lisod gyod sa sugod kay layo, tangason unya wa mi panginabuhi, pero human sa pila ka tuig naka hinay-hinay na mi (It was very difficult at first, because the site is far and steep and we didn’t have a way to earn a living. But after a few years, we’re making some progress),” Lawas told Sun.Star.

She used to run a carenderia in front of Pier 1, while her husband served as a porter in the pier.

Now, Lawas sells food in her new house in the upland barangay and her husband still works as a porter. Their income, she said, has dropped.

Trade-off

“Halin man sa pier kay daghan ug tawo unya wala’y gasto sa plete akong bana kung moadto sa pier (We would make more near the pier because there were more people, and my husband didn’t need to pay any fare to go to work),” she said.

But although Lawas hesitated to transfer at first because the area is too far from their downtown environs, she said her family managed to cope once they started staying in the relocation site.

Road access, electricity and other facilities like a chapel and day care center were already available at the site, but the water supply for their daily use remains a problem, because of the steep terrain.

Safer for kids

In Kapasar Phase I, which is situated in the lower portion of Phase II, water supply is already available.

Adelaida Lauron, 60, a resident of Phase II, said they have learned to appreciate the place, particularly the safety of their children, after their transfer in 2006.

“Layo na sila sa highway bisan mag dagan-dagan pa sila safety na kaayo (It’s far from the highway, so they can run around safely),” Lauron said.
Lauron said the challenge is to figure out a cheaper way to send the children to the Talamban Elementary School and to find an additional source of livelihood. (Sun.Star Cebu)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on April 13, 2014.

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