Board member: Informal settlers not above the law

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Sunday, September 9, 2012


CITY OF SAN FERNANDO -- “No one, including informal settlers along the Pampanga River, is above the law.”

So stressed fourth district Board Member Nestor Tolentino over the weekend, as the Department of Public Works and Highways is set to demolish houses and structures of informal settlers, including illegal fish pens in the towns of Macabebe and Masantol.

“We fully understand the predicament of these informal settlers and the owners of the fish pens along the Pampanga River. But that is a mandamus order from the Supreme Court and the demolition has to be conducted to clear the area and allow for the free flow of water and avert future flooding. It’s for their sake anyway,” he told Sun.Star Pampanga in an interview at Capitol during a meeting with Governor Lilia Pineda.

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Tolentino, who was the acquisition engineer of the Pampanga River Control System, clarified and illustrated the importance of clearing the river banks as an essential intervention in cleaning up Manila Bay and draining floodwater into the vital channel.

“Technically, the structures of the informal settlers are on the second tier of the river bank which would contain overflows. It is not the ‘pulo’ that is found inside the area. Once water is hampered, this would eventually overflow to other areas which will be more destructive. The area has to be cleared immediately. Besides, the property the structures are standing has already been purchased by the government and these settlers have been compensated a long time ago,” he added.

“It’s now a matter of political will. No one is really above the law. We have noted of humanitarian considerations but sometimes we must make sacrifices for the sake of many Kapampangans whose lives and properties are equally at risk,” said Tolentino.

Published in the Sun.Star Pampanga newspaper on September 10, 2012.

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