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QC warns barangay execs against allowing squatters to build new colonies

10/20/2011 [ tribune.net.ph ]

Quezon City Mayor Herbert “Bistek” Bautista yesterday warned barangay officials against allowing informal settlers to build new colonies within their turfs.

The stern warning was issued in the wake of reports his office has been receiving that some informal settlers who have already been resettled have started to sprout like mushrooms, particularly in areas along waterways or danger zones.

“We will not hesitate to prosecute local officials who fail to curtail the proliferation and further increase of informal settlements in their respective areas,” said the mayor whose latest strong statement appears to be a deviation from his moderate policies on issues concerning the interest of the city.

The mayor said makeshift dwellings on waterways and along riverbanks contribute to floods and water contamination, putting at risk the lives of thousands of other people.

“We have been given the teeth to discipline, suspend and remove such officials by the Department of Interior and Local Government under a memorandum circular,” he told members of the Quezon City Press Club.

He reminded village officials that allowing more and more families to live in unhygienic surroundings, with more and more poor children getting sick, with more indigent families dying from flood-causing mudslides and collapsing structures, will amount to creating more problems for the city government.

Already, the city government has to contend with the problem of funding its pro-poor housing communities where informal settlers could be resettled.

“Given the sheer size of our informal settler population — more than 232,000 families — the funds needed to make a significant reduction in the number is huge,” he said.

“That is why we have begun implementing two revenue measures mandated for local governments under the Urban Development and Housing Act way back in 1992: the idle land tax and the socialized housing tax,” he said.

Collection from the two tax measures is estimated at P300 million yearly which will go to a special fund for housing.

Arlie O. Calalo
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