Philippine president escorts squatters to new homes FWD

Tom Boland (wgcp@earthlink.net)
Sat, 26 Sep 1998 12:26:29 -0400


Sample news items appearing at the PHILIPPINE HEADLINE NEWS ONLINE
(http://www.newsflash.org/).
============================================

ERAP ESCORTS ESTERO SQUATTERS TO NEW HOMES

San Jose del Monte, Bulacan, Sept. 16, 1998 -  The first batch of  100
squatter families were led from Metro Manila esteros to their own homes
here by no less than President Estrada, who shared their first meal of
"lugaw" in their new abodes.

The intermittent rain did not stop the President from personally helping
the squatter families haul their belongings from their shanties along the
Estero de Maypajo in Balot, Tondo to buses hired by the government to ferry
them and their possessions to the Pabahay 2000 resettlement site here.

He joined the family of Jose Zabala in one of the buses on the way to
Bulacan, led them to their new home, inspected the facilities of the
housing unit, ate "lugaw (rice porridge)" prepared by the Zabalas, and gave
their daughter, Marilen, P2,000 in cash so she could celebrate her 18th
birthday.

He said today's resettlement activity was  concrete proof that his "Erap
Para Sa Mahirap" campaign vow is a genuine pro-poor program and not just a
vote-getting gimmick.

The President last month allocated P1 billion for the relocation of
thousands of squatter families in Metro Manila to low-cost housing projects
outside the metropolis.


At simple rites marking the turnover of the housing units to the squatter
families, President Estrada directed the various departments to ensure that
the provision of shelter is complemented by social services via the
establishment of health centers, schools and livelihood programs at the
resettlement site.

He also led in a tree-planting ceremony in front of the new homes of the
beneficiary-families which he hoped will remind them of their duty to keep
their surrounding s clean and green.

The President said he ordered the relocation of the squatter families not
only to give them decent shelter but also to ensure their safety from
health hazards and the danger of flash floods posed by the advent of La
Nina.

"Today we celebrate not only your acquisition of your new homes but the
start of you new way of life. This is the beginning of the realization of
your dream to
have a home of your own and a prosperous and peaceful life," the President
said.

It is our duty in government to give you access to opportunities that will
enable you to improve your life," the President said.

To ensure that the beneficiary-families are given opportunities to earn a
living and access to basic services, the President directed the Department
of Health (DOH) to set up a health clinic at the site, while the
Department of Social Welfare and Development was tasked with helping the
local government construct a day care center. The Department of Education
will set up schools for the children of relocated families.

He urged the beneficiary-families to unite in making the resettlement site
an ideal community to raise children by keeping it clean and reporting to
law enforcers any threat to peace and order in the area.

"Let us link arms and help each other. Your transfer here in Bulacan should
be the start of a
new life for all of you," the President said.

The President said he does not share the view of others who have warned him
that helping the poor would further deplete the public coffers because he
believes that it is the foremost duty of the government to take good care
of the people.

President Estrada was assisted during the turnover ceremony by Executive
Secretary Ronaldo Zamora, Secretary Karina Constantino-David of the Housing
and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC), Bulacan Governor Josie
dela Cruz, and San Jose del Monte Mayor Eduardo Roquero.

Under the "Sagip-Lipat" program, which fleshed out President Estrada's
campaign vow to put roofs over the heads of the homeless, the National
Housing Authority (NHA) and other housing authorities have revised the
pricing of Pabahay 2000 to make it affordable to the poor.

There are approximately 3,200 families around the Estero de Maypajo, David
said. The remaining families will be transferred to the housing site in the
next few weeks.

In ordering the launching of the "Sagip-Lipat" program last August 31, the
President released P1 billion for the construction of housing units for
squatter families.  David had sought the immediate release of an additional
P1 billion from the Poverty Alleviation Fund (PAF) for the NHA so that it
can develop more relocation sites for 10,000 other families living along
esteros, creeks and other waterways.

Under the program's budget, about P1.3 billion is earmarked for the NHA to
fund the relocation and resettlement of squatters who have settled along
creeks, esteros and waterways.  The fund shall be used to buy lands and
develop them into resettlement sites. Their relocation will also help  the
government's flood control program.

The resettlement program under PAF-3 covers Metro Manila and nearby areas
as well as the cities of Mandaue, Cebu and Iloilo in the Visayas.

END FORWARD

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