Davao City to relocate informal settlers affected by flood

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 23 Jan) – The city government is planning to relocate informal settlers in disaster-prone areas, who were among those affected by the flooding last weekend, a government official said Wednesday.

Robert Alabado III, head of the City Planning and Development Office (CPDO), said at the Club 888 media forum at The Marco Polo Davao that the planned relocation has no timeline as it depends on the availability of funds.

He added that it also depends on availability of land, relocation costs, acquisition of land, development of land, infrastructure and settlement, relocation expenses and housing costs.

The city has set aside relocation sites for informal settlers that are outside the central district, particularly in Los Amigos and Lasang villages, Alabado said.

But because these areas are far from their place of work, he noted, they did not leave their homes, citing the case of residents in flood-prone Matina Pangi.

“We understand their situation as they prioritize their economic interests,” Alabado said.

The city eyed to establish relocation sites where there are job opportunities, considering that informal settlers would rather risk their lives in residing near danger zones than lose their jobs, he noted.

Alabado pointed out that moving them to places where there is no access to job opportunities “might be putting them into a critical position economically.”

The informal settlers have their own risk assessment, which, according to him, is “very acceptable.”

He said flooding happens only once in 10 years, but unemployment even just for a week can cause people to die of hunger.

“We have not explored more ways for them to own land. We have to look for ways,” he said.

They are not just informal settlers, but also people who do not have the capacity to own land, adding that housing projects at the downtown area are unaffordable for them, Alabado stressed.

Toto Bolcan, spokesperson of the Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap Davao City, earlier said informal settlers in the city, who had been displaced from the mountains, face the risk of living by the riverbanks as they do not have their own land.

He said the government has to provide adequate housing program for them that will not sacrifice their livelihood.

Alabado said the city government will explore housing schemes for the informal settlers so that they can be relocated.

He said the Gawad Kalinga and the City Agriculturist’s Office are looking into possible projects near relocation sites that can perk up the economy in the area and provide jobs for the settlers.

“We have to plan our resettlement area to entice them to relocate,” Alabado said, noting that the CPDO is there to help in ensuring public safety.

The flooding last Sunday hit 15 of the 182 barangays here, causing evacuation of over 15,000 families, mostly living by the riverbank and residential areas identified as highly susceptible to geo-hazards. (Lorie Ann A. Cascaro / MindaNews)