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First batch of informal settlers transferred to Cavite.

By Hans Amancio

The first batch of informal settler families (ISFs) living on the banks of Estero de Magdalena in Binondo, Manila was relocated to Trece Martirez, Cavite to give way to the P17-million rehabilitation of the garbage-filled waterway.

Around 40 families were relocated to Summer Homes in Trece Martirez, Cavite on Tuesday, while another 60 families are scheduled to be relocated on July 10, Pasig River Rehabilitation Commission (PRRC) Director Jose Antonio Goitia said.

Goitia added that apart from being exposed to several diseases such as leptospirosis and diarrhea, the ISFs were also to be blamed for the increasing amount of garbage in the kilometer-long waterway, which is connected to the Pasig River.

According to PRRC Public Information Head George dela Rama, the National Housing Authority (NHA) has granted 800 housing units in Trece Martirez, which could even extend to 1,500 units once all documentations and relocation processes are completed.

Each unit has a lot area of 40 sqm. while the floor area is around 20 sqm., Goitia said. The families are also free to renovate their new homes as they wish, he added.

Meanwhile, Dela Rama said that the homes do not only have the "basic elements of a decent home" such as toilets, sinks, and doors but are also close to nearby schools and hospitals including the Trece Martirez National High School and the Public Health Center.

Following the relocation of their neighbors, more ISFs, scheduled to relocate next week, are looking forward to their new homes, saying that the relocation project is a chance for them to escape their polluted environment and finally start anew.

Jessica Mamuyac, 28, said that she and her family could finally live a safe and quiet life, away from the dangers of natural disasters in Manila.

"Maganda na maalis na kami dito kasi unang-una nakakatakot po sa mga sakuna na mangyayare tulad ng sunog, lindol at baha. Lalo sakin kasi bulag ang nanay ko at di na nakakalakad (It's good that we'll finally be out of this place because it's a scary place to live in especially when disasters strike like fire, earthquake and flood especially for us because my mother is already blind and unable to walk)," Mamuyac said, who will be relocating together with her mother and live-in-partner.

Last year, Mamuyac said that ISFs living along Estero de Magdalena were scheduled to be relocated in Pandi, Bulacan. However, she said that urban poor group Kadamay occupied the said housing units, which was why some ISFs remained to be unrelocated until this year.

Meanwhile, Christian Hipolito, 20, said that their family was already planning to put up a business as soon as they get relocated to their new home.

"Plano po naming magtayo ng tindahan doon. Mas okay doon dahil tahimik at hindi delikado. Dun na lang din ako maghahanap ng bagong trabaho para makapagsimula ulit," Hipolito said, who currently works at a restaurant.

Paying around P2,500 in rent for their small shanty along the polluted waterway, Hipolito said that his family is eager to relocate as soon as possible.

"Doon kasi, libre ang bahay sa first two years. Tapos non, P200 kada buwan lang. Pero bawat taon, magiging doble, bale P400, P600... Pero okay na yon dahil 20 years to pay naman (There, the houses are for free for the first two years. After that, we have to pay P200 per month. Every year it will double so it will be P400, P600 [so on]... But its okay because we have 20 years to pay)," he said.

Meanwhile, Josie Pascua, 62, was not as eager as the others. While preparing the belongings of her daughter and her grandchild, she said that in a few days, she won't have a place to stay at as she was not a part of the relocation project.

"Hindi naman kasi ako kasama. Pero siguro magpapapunta-punta na lang ako dahil may anak naman ako sa Pandi, Bulacan. Wala pa kong titirahan eh pero di ko na iniisip yun kung saan magsestay kasi wala naman akong trabaho. Masaya na ko para sa anak ko (I was not a part of it. But I will go back and forth because I have a daughter in Pandi, Bulacan. I dont have a place to stay in but I dont mind because I dont have a job. I am happy for my daughter)," she said.

Pascua said that her daughter will be relocated next week along with her husband and one-year-old son. Her daughter's husband, who now works at a store inside Divisoria, will just stay in his store until December to earn and provide for his family.

Goitia said that a job fair sponsored by Mayor Melandres de Sagun will be held for ISFs looking for job opportunities.

CAPTION(S):

Residents living in shanties still stay at Estero de Magdalena in Manila on Wednesday. The city of Manila will start relocating more than 40 families in the cluttered waterway. (Jansen Romero / MANILA BULLETIN)
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Title Annotation:Metro
Publication:Manila Bulletin
Geographic Code:9PHIL
Date:Jul 4, 2018
Words:828
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