THE number of informal settlers in Davao City reached 13,000 in 2010, but a city official said the number is "not alarming" as it only represents 4.1 percent of the total number of households.
Citing the latest data provided by the National Statistics Office (NSO), Roy Ryan Rigor, officer-in-charge of Housing and Homesite Development- City Planning and Development Office (HHD-CPDO), said informal settlers are defined as households that "occupy lots which are rent-free but without consent of the owner".
Based on the 2010 Census Population and Housing (CPH), Davao City has a total of 334,743 households, 60.6 percent or 202,690 of whom represent those who owned or paying for the property they occupy, 16.8 percent (56,191) occupy lots which are rent-free but with consent of the owner, 16.7 percent (55,856) rented lots that they occupied, while 4.1 percent (13,713) occupy lots which are rent-free, but without consent of the owner.
Rigor said that although he cannot directly say that the number is alarming, the number "may affect the city's development".
"Although gamay ang percentage, but ang ilang presence hindi pwedeng i-disregard (It's a small percentage but it should not be disregarded)," Rigor said during the I-Speak Forum Thursday.
He said the informal settlers are considered to be the most "vulnerable individuals" to calamities.
Rigor said the informal settlers in Davao City have been "spread out" among the 182 barangays in the metropolis, adding that the influx is apparently situated at the downtown area where loads of opportunities are high.
He said these informal settlers occupy road right of way, riverbanks, and even private properties.
Since the latest data available is 2010, he said there might be a "slight increase" on the figure for 2013 due to "rapid urbanization".
"Dili sila tanan due for demolition, but some of them nga naay mga kaso na sa korte dili na mapugngan (Not all of them are due for demolition but others were already charged in court so that's unstoppable)," Rigor said.
Shelter Program Rigor said the City has a Shelter Program for the city's informal settlers.
Among the projects under this program are the Slum Improvement and Resettlement, which identifies lands for distribution to homeless and underprivileged beneficiaries; Urban Land Reform Program, which involves acquiring lands through grant of loan; and Private Land Owner and City Government Partnership, which involves private land owners and the city government providing relocation sites and development for the basic amenities.
The identified slum improvement and resettlement area are New Matina sites and services, New Matina Upgrading Area, Piapi Upgrading Area, SAHORA, Barangay 31-D, and Isla Verde.
The city has a total of nine relocation sites. These are found in Panacan, Mintal, Tibungco, Tigatto, Catalunan Grande, Malagamot, Los Amigos, PPA MAhayag and Marapangi, Toril.
He said these sites are already fully occupied expect for the relocation in Los Amigos.
However, seven out of 21 hectares in Los Amigos Relocation Area still needs to be developed.
Rigor also said that under the shelter program, occupants in relocation area pay at least P500 monthly from 20 to 25 years.
"We have to humanize this program but to humanize it, dili pud ingon na ihatag siya nga libre (It won't be given for free)," he said.
Rigor also revealed that while the city is faced with problems on informal settlers, the HHD-CPDO was able to identify 900 professional squatters, or those who make squatting their means of livelihood.
He said not all 900 professional squatters are residents of Davao City.
"We are confronted with professional squatters daily. We already have a committee focused on them," he said.
He said they have already recommended filing of squatting complaints against them.
He also said the committee, however, only have the power to recommend filing cases against them and not to prosecute them.
The offended party, Rigor said, files a case against them.