Press Release
February 27, 2010

Villar seeks immediate release of housing funds for 'Tent City' residents

ROSALES, Pangasinan--Nacionalista Party standard-bearer Manny Villar today (Saturday) sought the immediate release of the funds for the relocation of the estimated 400 families temporarily residing at the "Tent City" here after they were displaced by massive floods brought by typhoon "Pepeng" in Pangasinan in October last year.

Villar made the call, noting that four months after the tragedy, residents of the Tent City are still living in ramshackle conditions.

The area has 184 tents, donated by the international charity organization Shelter Box Trust, in which each tent is shared by at least two families.

Comparing it to a Boy Scout campsite, Villar said that although the area has paved courtyards where children can play, residents still need to be relocated to a more decent and livable place that could compare or be better than their former homes that were destroyed by Pepeng.

"Dapat lamang na sila ay mailipat dahil hindi na makatao ang pamimirmihan nila dito. Hindi naman nababagay na tumigil sila dito nang habang panahon," Villar said.

Villar expressed concern over the admission of Mayor Ricardo Revita that the area, being flood-prone, has been declared unfit for housing by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources-Mines and Geosciences Bureau.

Villar said the flooding that hit Pangasinan in October last year was "extraordinary," forcing residents to relocate to safer areas.

"While we still reel from the effects of El Niño, we nonetheless must move fast to relocate these people before the onset of the rainy season," Villar said.

Villar said that Rosales' Tent City is just one of the many temporary camps still existing months after the back-to-back Ondoy and Pepeng storms ravaged Luzon.

Calling these provisional shelters the Philippine version of "Haiti's plastic cities," Villar urged the national government to release funds for the permanent resettlement of affected residents.

Although the area has paved courtyards, Villar noted that the residents are still living in ramshackle conditions, bereft of the necessities enjoyed in other communities.

He recalled that an appropriation of P50 billion has been included in the 2010 national budget for disaster work, on top of the P12 billion which was authorized weeks after the twin catastrophes struck last September and October.

As Villar was speaking, scores of children sang his pro-poor jingle to the cheers of the crowd. He joined the children in their singing after his speech.

Municipal officials are looking at a site in Barangay Palakipak where the Habitat for Humanity can build 190 low-cost housing units.

The town has also used a P700,000 donation and P1.5 million in local funds to buy a two-hectare lot in Barangay Balingcanaway. The Philippine National Red Cross will build 300 temporary shelters for the victims there.

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