Press Release
October 20, 2009

Zubiri calls for review and re-inspection
of proposed relocation sites for informal settlers

Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri today urged the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) and the National Housing Authority (NHA) to review and reassess the safety of the proposed relocation sites for the 544,609 families living along the waterways in Metro Manila.

Zubiri raised the concern following the devastation to the metropolis and Northern Luzon caused by typhoons Ondoy and Pepeng that spawned record-breaking floods in Metro Manila, Bulacan and Isabela; disastrous dam spills in Pangasinan; and fatal landslides in Benguet.

"The proposed relocation sites for the informal settlers in the coastal communities were not exempted from the recent catastrophe that ravaged Metro Manila and the northern region. I therefore call on all government agencies concerned to review and reassess the condition of the proposed transfer sites as these areas are more dangerous to illegal settlers," Zubiri said.

Among the areas being considered as relocation sites include Bulacan, Pampanga, Tarlac and Laguna.

The senator said that, "while the need to relocate the informal settlers near and around the coastal communities in Metro Manila requires urgent action, the agencies in-charge should see to it that the safety and protection of the people are properly considered."

He likewise called for stricter monitoring of floodways to prevent informal settlers from dwelling in areas surrounding the waterways.

"By not properly monitoring our floodways against informal settlers, it is like allowing and tolerating them. In order to prevent this from further happening, and so as not to give additional burden on the part of government, especially in terms of rescue and recovery during disaster and calamity the government should always be on the lookout," he said.

The Majority Leader also appealed to the MMDA and the NHA to ensure that financial assistance and livelihood opportunities are available in the proposed relocation sites to prevent illegal settlers from going back to their old dwellings.

Zubiri likewise urged all public officials seeking elective positions in the May 2010 elections to also consider the condition of the illegal settlers in their agenda, and how to address the flooding problem in Metro Manila and nearby provinces.

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