Bill to establish in-city and near-city policy for informal settlers pushed

By on June 2, 2014

Informal settlers in Metro Manila. Saiko3p / Shutterstock
Informal settlers in Metro Manila. Saiko3p / Shutterstock

MANILA — Poor families living in squatter areas should be given the right to participate in establishing housing projects for informal settlers in the country.

House Bill 3975 authored by Reps. Ibarra Gutierrez III and Walden Bello (Party-list, Akbayan) will institutionalize a “People’s Plan” at establishing an on-site, in-city or near-city policy for informal settler families amending Republic Act 7279, otherwise known as the Urban Development and Housing Act of 1992.

The bill defines ‘in-city’ as a relocation site within the jurisdiction of the city where the affected informal settler families are living while ‘near-city’ refers to a relocation site in a city other than the city of the affected informal settlements, adjacent to the present settlements of the affected informal settler families.

“People’s plan is a community development plan, which went through a process of consultation with, and endorsement by the beneficiaries formed by people’s organizations, with or without the support of non-government organization,” Gutierrez said.

Gutierrez said the people’s plan contains a site development plan and may include, among others, non-physical development such as livelihood, self-help development, and capability building trainings.

Bello said from 1998 to 2011, the government has only managed to provide resettlement to 235, 214 families, an average of 16,801 families per year.

“The housing backlog will increase because of our growing population and the intensifying migration to urban centers and the government will continue to miss its annual housing targets, a backlog which the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council estimates to rise by more than 195,00 for every year,” Bello said.

The measure to be known as the On-site, In-City, Near-City Resettlement Act of 2014 shall be in conformity with the policy of the State which is to ensure that housing beneficiaries have sustainable access to natural and common resources, safe drinking water, heating and lighting, sanitation and washing facilities, site drainage and emergency services.

Under the measure, on-site development shall be implemented after adequate and genuine consultation with the affected informal settler families

Should in-city resettlement be impossible, near-city resettlement sites shall be considered while off-site resettlements shall only be resorted to when directly requested by the affected informal settler families themselves.

Housing beneficiaries shall also be ensured access to employment options, healthcare services, schools, child-care centers and other social facilities.

A relocation action plan shall be an indispensable component of the people’s plan, which ensure safe, affordable, decent and humane conditions of relocation, provide adequate social preparation, and prevent forced eviction.

The housing financial scheme suggested in the people’s plan shall be given primary consideration and the implementation of housing solution shall be subject to checking, validation and acceptance by the affected informal settler families.

The Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council shall promulgate a new set of implementing rules and regulations (IRR) after consultation with concerned government agencies, non-government organizations, people’s organizations, representatives from the private sector and informal settler families.