[ manilastandardtoday.com] March 22, 2010
by Ferdie Domingo
Administrators of the Aurora Special Economic Zone have launched a P100-million housing project for some 450 families who would be relocated to make way for the construction of facilities in the only economic hub on the Pacific side of the country.
Vitaliano Sabalo Jr., acting ASEZA deputy administrator, said the National Housing Authority would build the houses under a memorandum of agreement with the economic zone.
The relocation project is part of the plan to develop the 500-hectare ecozone into a decentralized, self-reliant and self-sustaining agro-industrial center, Sabalo said.
Sabalo said that the transfer would be a welcome development to the residents since they would be housed in better facilities to be provided by the housing agency.
Federico Laxa, NHA general manager, said the construction of housing units is also in line with the goals of the National Shelter Program reaffirming mass housing as a centerpiece government program in alleviating poverty.
Apart from the housing project, which would be completed within a year, the housing agency would also provide for basic facilities such as school and livelihood training centers, Laxa said.
ASEZA recently came under criticisms from non government organizations for alleged displacement of local communities in Aurora as a result of the eco-zone’s development. Critics claimed only the family of Senator Edgardo Angara would benefit from the twin projects because it owns the land where the projects were located. Angara dismissed the allegations, clarifying that his family does not own any property in the 500-hectare economic zone or in the 312-hectare area occupied by the food basket project. “More importantly, we are not setting up these projects to displace the residents. These are public properties intended for high-value agricultural production towards Aurora’s food security,”he said.