AFTER receiving lump-sum cash assistance to build their own houses inland or start anew in their provinces, former coastal settlers at what will be the site of the country’s largest and most modern international airport, have received another windfall because of Malolos Bishop Dennis Villarojo.
San Miguel Corp. (SMC) president and chief operating officer Ramon S. Ang lauded Villarojo not just for ensuring the concerns of residents of Barangay Taliptip in Bulakan, Bulacan reached the company—but also for distributing to them the total cash value of abandoned chapels in the area that SMC also paid for.
“Today, as our country battles the Covid-19 global pandemic, acts of generosity and malasakit towards our fellow Filipinos are what we need. Bishop Villarojo exemplifies this kind of selflessness. We are proud to have helped the people of Taliptip through the efforts of Bishop Villarojo,” Ang said.
Villarojo was Archdiocese of Cebu’s auxiliary bishop when Pope Francis appointed him to lead the diocese of Malolos in Bulacan, Luzon in 2019.
Residents—many of whom were former caretakers and workers at privately owned fish ponds that had gone out of business or were sold off when profits ran dry because of tidal floods—have voluntarily moved out of the coastal area.
This development brings the much-awaited airport project—touted as the biggest investment in the country at P734 billion—one step closer to becoming a reality.
According to Ang, the prelate pushed for the distribution of cash to the people for the appraised values of their homes and of four abandoned chapels in the area.
Upon the direction of Bishop Villarojo, SMC appraised the values of chapels at Sitio Pariyahan, Sitio Dapdap, Sitio Bunutan and Sitio Capol, and distributed to residents of each sitio the cash value of their respective chapels.
A total of P2,253,000 was given to 242 residents, on top of additional cash assistance given by SMC as requested by Villarojo.
These amounts are separate from payments made by SMC to both qualified and non-qualified claimants, for their homes.
“We thank the good bishop for helping the residents and for suggesting to us steps on how we can address their concerns. Because of him, we were able to provide what the residents really needed, and we assured him that we would care for everyone,” Ang said.
Meanwhile, as part of its efforts to help residents start life anew, San Miguel provided owners of non-concrete houses or shanties P250,000 each, while owners of concrete houses were given the appraised value of their homes multiplied by two, plus P100,000.
A total of 277 owners of concrete and shanty houses qualified for financial assistance.
Cash assistance was also given to 92 others who were disqualified, bringing to 369 the total beneficiaries.
According to Ang, many of the former settlers decided to move inland or go back to their respective provinces, namely Samar, Negros, Nueva Ecija, Sorsogon, Mindoro, Masbate, Camarines Sur, Malabon, Bataan Valenzuela, Parañaque and Albay.
For those who decided to live nearby, Ang said SMC will extend assistance in the form of skills training and job opportunities at the airport project.
“Our help does not stop at providing them cash to start anew in life. We will help equip beneficiaries with skills and provide them opportunities that will allow them to change their lives for the better,” he said.
As such, former residents can avail of courses being offered by the Technical Skills Development Authority (Tesda) in partnership with SMC. SMC also assists them in maintaining linkages with the DSWD and Bulakan Municipal Government to ensure they continue to get benefits due them.
The SMC-Tesda program courses, to be offered either through face-to-face or online classes, include Dressmaking, Cookery, Shielded Metal Arc Welding, Electrical Installation and Maintenance, and Heavy Equipment Operator (Hydraulic Excavator).
Following their training programs, students will undergo the Tesda skills assessment test before being given national certificates.
Trainees will also undergo entrepreneurship training for three days. They will receive tool kits, should they opt for self-employment.
Graduates of heavy equipment operator course will be referred to SMC for postings at the airport project.
The New Manila International Airport is seen as a game-changer for the Philippines as it will feature four parallel runways with a provision for two more, a world-class terminal, and supported by a seamless transport system.
The airport will accommodate up to 100 million passengers yearly, generate over a million direct and indirect jobs, give rise to many small industries in Bulacan, and significantly boost tourism, leading to more jobs across all industries.