By Delon Porcalla (The Philippine Star) | Updated September 9, 2013 - 12:00am
MANILA, Philippines - The government has released P1 billion as part of the assistance to informal settlers, not just in Metro Manila but in the entire country as well.
Budget Secretary Florencio Abad said the funds would go to the Social Housing Finance Corp. (SHFC) to support land tenureship loans to informal settler families under the government’s Community Mortgage Financing (CMF) initiative.
“The fund release made in July and representing the CMF’s fiscal year 2013 allocation under the General Appropriations Act will cover loans for 175 projects under the SHFC’s Community Mortgage Program,” he said in a statement.
“These projects are expected to benefit 19,953 poor households and informal settlers nationwide,” Abad said, noting the amount is crucial as the country gears up for the onslaught of the rainy season.
“Now that we’re in the middle of the rainy season, it’s even more important to inject funds into programs that will enhance our pre-disaster management initiatives,” Abad said.
“Besides relocating poor families particularly those in flood-prone or high-risk areas, this fund release will also allow SHFC to give poor families the opportunity to secure their own property,” he added.
A subsidiary of the National Home Mortgage Finance Corp., the SHFC facilitates social housing programs and provides assistance to organized informal settlers to secure land tenureship through the CMF.
Under the CMF, qualified families are provided with loans to finance the acquisition of lands which they are currently occupying or where they have been resettled.
In 2012, SHFC financed 100 projects where 9,287 informal settlers’ families were provided housing assistance with a total loan takeout of P549 million.
The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) under Secretary Manuel Roxas II earlier said the government is adopting a near-site or even on-site relocation policy for informal settlers residing along the precarious waterways of Metro Manila.
Roxas said President Aquino himself gave instructions that all relocation strategies of the government agencies should, as a top priority, prevent the displacement of families from their source of livelihood and schools.
The DILG is coordinating with local governments units, civil society organizations, and agencies such as the National Housing Authority, Department of Social Welfare and Development and SHFC in not only ensuring safe and permanent housing sites, but also for the provision of basic services and livelihood programs for families living in the so-called danger zones in Metro Manila.
These danger zones are communities located near or along the tributaries of Manila Bay.
People living there are most prone to disasters brought about by sudden silt and deposit flows that occur mostly during rainy season.
Data from the Metro Manila Development Authority said that as of 2011, a total of 104,219 families are living in high-risk areas. Roxas said about 19,440 families were identified as residing along eight waterways that are deemed very hazardous.
They are located along the San Juan River (4,217 families), Pasig River (1,434), Tullahan River (3,683), Maricaban Creek (1,637), Manggahan Floodway (2,997), Estero Tripa de Gallina (3,887), Estero de Maypajo (1,415), and Estero de Sunog Apog (170).