River bank squatters to go, Roxas declares

The government has devised a plan to relocate more than 15,000 squatter families living on the banks of rivers and waterways that run across 11 towns and cities in Metro Manila, Interiror and Local Government Secretary Manuel Roxas said on Sunday.

He said he has summoned the various government agencies involved in relocation of squatters to a meeting at Camp Crame today to unify their efforts and ease the effect on the affected families, especially those who were unable to move out before the onset of the rainy season.

“We need to prepare. We need to harmonize our plans. We want to avoid casualties during the rainy season,” Roxas said.

About 15,773 families live on the banks of six rivers and waterways that usually overflow its banks during the rainy season. Their houses are made of cardboards, discarded plywoods and plastic sheets recovered from garbage dumps.

The 7.3 km San Juan River has the most number of squatters on his banks with 4,567 families followed by Tripa de Gallina, a narrow waterway that runs through Pasay, Paranaque and Manila with 3,684 families. Manggahan Floodway, which was built in 1986 to ease the flooding along Pasig River, has become a home for 1,889 families.

Roxas said the government has prepared a three-year program to move about 60,000 squatter families to relocation areas by the year 2016.

“We are preparing because we are concerned about their welfare. When the typhoon season arrives, we want to make sure that their lives will not be in danger,” Roxas said.

Source: Manila Standard Today

By Florante S. Solmerin

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