GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/5 Sept) – The city government is set to acquire a six-hectare relocation site for informal settlers and residents who were earlier displaced by various calamities that hit the area.
Mary Ann Bacar, City Housing and Land Management Office chief, said Wednesday her office has submitted a proposal to City Mayor Darlene Antonino-Custodio for the acquisition and development of a relocation or resettlement site worth around P6.5 million in Barangay Mabuhay here.
She said the city’s appraisal committee endorsed the purchase of the proposed relocation site, which is considered as an ideal resettlement area.
“We selected the area based on standards and regulations set by the government regarding the development of resettlement sites,” Bacar said.
She said they specifically considered the proposed site’s price or valuation, development requirements, accessibility, among others.
Bacar said the proposed relocation site is still classified as agricultural land but they are currently working for its reclassification by the local zoning board into a residential area.
She said they have requested the National Irrigation Administration to issue a certification that the area is already a non-productive agricultural land and is no longer covered by its irrigation services.
Based on the relocation site’s subdivision plan, she said it will be subdivided to accommodate its targeted 360 beneficiaries.
She said the site’s initial beneficiaries will be identified based on the requirements set by Republic Act 7279 or the Urban Development and Housing Act (UDHA) of 1992.
UDHA is a government framework that provides security and housing tenure for poor residents, especially the informal settlers.
It mandated local government units to provide socialized housing projects for the relocation of informal settlers and allocate funds to address squatting and other related housing problems.
Bacar said that based on their assessment, there are currently around 13,000 informal settlers based in the city.
She said the city government has so far facilitated the resettlement of about half of such number through various private and government-led socialized housing programs.
Mayor Custodio earlier said the city government will pursue the relocation this year of residents situated in several calamity dangers zones, especially those who were affected by the severe flooding along the Silway River last year.
Around 200 families that were situated in communities near the Silway River were forced to evacuate several times in the last two years due to the swelling of the river’s waters.
Silway River, which flows to Sarangani Bay, is the main outlet of several river-tributaries from the upland areas in nearby South Cotabato province.
In June and July last year, several portions of the dike along the Silway River suffered breaches and eventually collapsed following heavy rains in the area. (Allen V. Estabillo / MindaNews)