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Palace: Informal settlers returning to esteros will be arrested

Louis Bacani - The Philippine Star
MANILA, Philippines - Informal settlers in the major waterways of Metro Manila could be arrested if they return to the esteros, Malacañang warned on Wednesday.
 
At a press briefing, Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said police and barangay officials are obligated to prevent the informal settlers from coming back to esteros, which are considered as danger zones.
 
Lacierda said aside from facing the risk of flooding during rains and storms, families residing in these areas are also vulnerable to water-related diseases both in the rainy and dry seasons.
 
"In all likelihood, they (informal settlers) will be apprehended and they will be prevented from returning to the danger zones," said Lacierda.
 
"Sinisigurado natin na hindi na sila makakabalik sa danger zones. ‘Yan ay mahigpit na instruction ni Pangulong Aquino, at i-enforce ‘yan ng [Department of Interior and Local Government]," he added.
 
The spokesperson said the Department of Public Works and Highways and the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority will also carry out projects in abandoned areas immediately after the informal settlers have transferred to safer areas.
 
The Department of Justice has also vowed to go after professional squatters, he said.
 
"We are trying to eliminate those professional squatters, we want to make sure that those people we're going to help are those people that are really in need," said Lacierda.
 
The official also defended the government's plan to give P18,000 rent assistance to informal settlers in waterways in exchange of their relocation, claiming that the move isn’t a band-aid solution but a long-term one.
 
“Ang sabi ng iba 'band aid' ito, ang sinasabi namin, 'first aid' ito dahil ito ay unang tulong sa ating mga pamilyang who are in danger zones, in the esteros, in those eight major waterways,” said Lacierda.
 
“We need to move them out in order to make sure that come typhoon season, hindi sila maaapektuhan. This is not the only solution; our solution is to relocate them to decent structures off site, in city, or near city.” he added.
 
Last week, the government committed to relocate within the year 20,000 families residing in eight esteros or waterways to mitigate flooding and traffic in Metro Manila.
 
The eight waterways that will be cleared immediately are the San Juan River with 4,217 families; Tullahan River with 3,683 families; the Manggahan Floodway, 2,997; Maricaban Creek, 1,687; Estero Tripa de Gallina, 3,887; Pasig River, 1,484; Estero de Sunog Apog, 170, and Estero de Maypajo, 1,415 – or a total of 19,440 families.
 
An initial 4,000 families living along esteros in Metro Manila will be relocated and others given the P18,000 rent assistance when they agree to leave the danger zones.

 

DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE

DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC WORKS AND HIGHWAYS AND THE METROPOLITAN MANILA DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY

ESTERO

ESTERO TRIPA

LACIERDA

MANGGAHAN FLOODWAY

METRO MANILA

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