DSWS watching out for opportunistic squatters
- Jessica Ann R. Pareja () - February 16, 2011 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines - The Cebu City Department of Social Welfare and Services is watching out for informal settlers who have already been evicted from danger areas before and received quick claims from the city government but who returned to rebuild their houses and are now demanding another round of assistance.

These informal settlers – tagged as “professional squatters” – might, however, still be given assistance depending on the outcome of the assessment of the DSWS. Informal settlers to be affected by the clearing of Mahiga River were promised assistance from the city government and from representatives Rachel “Cutie” del Mar and Tomas Osmeña.

DSWS head Catherine Yso said they have discovered at least two families with homes built along the Mahiga River and who have also claimed financial assistance of P5,000 from the Division for the Welfare of the Urban Poor a few months ago when a similar operation was conducted in the area.

DWUP and personnel of the Squatters Prevention and Encroachment Elimination Division demolished the houses along the river but some of them went back to rebuild their structures. During that time, the DWUP also released quick claims to the affected families.

Yso said that those who have received quick claims before will no longer be given assistance unless they see that they badly need the aid.

She said that the city government cannot allow abuses because it might become a precedent that will encourage more informal settlers to come to Cebu City and build their houses in danger areas such as rivers and creeks.

The DSWS and SPEED are working on finalizing the master list of families that will be affected by the clearing. Yso said that sometimes, their list does not match with the list generated by SPEED.

DSWS depends on the list made during profiling. Yso, however, said that they need the assistance of SPEED because SPEED can identify the families living within the three-meter easement and those living on top of the body of water.

Meanwhile, social workers have started the profiling of informal settlers occupying the banks of the Bulacao River.

After the clearing in Mahiga, the city will start clearing the banks of the Bulacao River to remove the obstructions in the waterways that cause the water to overflow.

The temporary shelter set up by the city government in Block 27 of the North Reclamation Area has started accepting occupants but only those identified families that will be immediately evicted may avail of the temporary shelter.

They can only stay there for a month. Within that time, they must find a place to rent or stay or they may avail of the city’s Balik Probinsya Program where they will be assisted in going back to their respective hometowns. –(FREEMAN)

BALIK PROBINSYA PROGRAM BULACAO RIVER CATHERINE YSO CEBU CITY CEBU CITY DEPARTMENT OF SOCIAL WELFARE AND SERVICES CITY MAHIGA RIVER MAR AND TOMAS OSME NORTH RECLAMATION AREA YSO
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