DILG-Urban Poor accord: No relocation of informal settlers living in danger zones unless agreed upon by both parties

May 29, 2013 11:16 pm 

MANILA, May 29 – The Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) and the militant group representing the urban poor. on Wednesday inked a memorandum of agreement providing that there will be no relocation of informal settlers living in danger zones unless agreed upon by both parties.

The agreement was forged by undersecretary Francisco “Bimbo” Fernandez of the DILG and Anakpawis Rep. Fernando Hicap representing the urban poor.

Dialogue between members of the urban poor and the DILG became the key on how to resolve relocation of informal settlers living in areas declared as danger zones.

“There’s nothing that a good dialogue cannot do,” Fernandez said in an interview after attending a close door meeting with militants headed by Anakpawis Rep. Hicap.

Rallying urban poor groups opposing the government’s planned relocation of families living along the waterways of Metro Manila found this out to their heart’s content when the DILG agreed to some sort of a ceasefire: the government will not demolish.

A handwritten MOA was signed by the two parties calling for the joint implementation of on-site or near-site relocation for those residing in danger areas in the National Capital Region.

It also stated that there will be no forcible demolition of the riverside dwellers until after both parties have met anew.

Undersecretary Fernandez signed the MOA in behalf of the DILG while Rep. Hicap led the signatories for the urban poor group which included representatives of Buklod, Kadamay, KPMM, Courage, Gabriela and Kilusang Mayo Uno.

The urban poor groups under the Alyansa Kontra Demolisyon staged a lightning rally in front of the DILG office along EDSA when Fernandez, on instructions of DILG secretary Mar Roxas, invited the leaders for a dialogue and explain the government’s plan to clear the waterways before the rainy season sets in.

“Nais ko pong tiyakin sa lahat na hindi kayo ililipat sa lugar na malayo sa inyong hanapbuhay,”Fernandez explained to the group. “Sa ilalim ng programa ng Daang Matuwid ni Pangulong Aquino, hindi kayo aalisin sa inyong kasalukuyang tirahan na walang disente, maayos at ligtas na paglilipatan.” [“I want to assure everybody that no one will be transfer away from your source of income,” Fernandez explained.

“Under the program “straight path of President Aquino, you will not be removed from your present residence until after there is decent, livable and safer place,” he said.

Some 20,000 families in six major esteros in Metro Manila have been identified for relocation in phase one of a three-year relocation plan by the government under a policy which gives residents options on where they would like to be relocated.

Fernandez pointed out that the government is their partner in finding relocation sites acceptable to all.

After being assured that there will be no forcible demolitions, the group agreed to sign the MOA which Fernandez believes will go a long way towards a peaceful resolution of the issue.

“This covenant will go a long way in promoting harmony between the government and the river dwellers. Tao ang dapat laging panalo [The people should always be the winner],” he said.

It is estimated that over 60,000 families live along riverbanks in Metro Manila alone. (PNA)

CTB/SFM

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