Informal settlers back De Lima’s call for Senate probe on relocation sites

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Thousands of informal settler families threw their support to the planned Senate investigation into the living condition and impending eviction of around 600,000 families relocated to 69 resettlement areas of National Housing Authority (NHA).

Josephtos Nilo said the members of Homeowners Federation of Northville and Southville, Inc. (HFNSI) which he heads are increasingly worried about their possible eviction for their failure to settle their outstanding arrears and penalties.

“Mahigit 10 taon na mula nang kami ay ilipat ng gobyerno ngunit hanggang ngayon ay hindi pa rin umaangat ang antas ng aming pamumuhay bagkus ay patuloy kaming binabagabag ng kahirapan, pangamba, at kawalan ng katiyakan sa paninirahan,” he said in a statement dated Nov. 3.

“Napalayas na po kami mula sa dati naming mga tahanan at nalipat nga sa mga relocation sites na ito pero ngayon ay libu-libo na naman sa amin ang nanganganib na muling mapaalis dahil sa inilabas ng NHA na Memorandum Circular 2506,” he added.

Nilo was referring to NHA MC No. 2506 which defines illegal occupants as those whose contracts were cancelled due to arrearages of more than three months and those with contracts that matured or expired but who have not fully settled their obligations.

From 2005 to 2014, more than 600,000 informal settler families (ISF) from Metro Manila and the provinces of Bulacan, Pampanga, Rizal, Cavite and Laguna who were residing along railroad tracks were affected by the Northrail and Southrail projects.

These ISFs who have been relocated to 69 Northville and Southville resettlement areas of the NHA are now in danger of being evicted due to the NHA Memorandum Circular No. 2506 which removes occupants from their housing units.

“Hindi biro ang sitwasyon sa mga komunidad tulad ng Northville at Southville; walang kabuhayan o trabaho at kung may pinagkikitaan ay kulang na kulang pa rin. May mga nagbabayad naman po pero ayaw ng NHA ng partial payment kaya lalo kaming nababaon sa utang,” Nilo said.

Last Oct. 29, De Lima filed Senate Resolution No. 535 urging the Senate housing and resettlement committee chaired by Sen. JV Ejercito to look into the plight of the residents of Northville and Southville resettlement areas.

She noted that NHA has commissioned collection agencies and law firms to help the government in collecting arrears from the informal settler families without regard to their living conditions in the relocation sites.

“These collection agencies and law firms do not consider the challenges the residents are facing, most of which arose from, or are directly related to, their relocation to these remote areas,” she said.

“Due to the strict implementation of the penalties due to the amortization arrears, most of the Northville and Southville residents are facing an increasing debt that are fast becoming insurmountable given their current conditions,” she added.

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