Running out of timeCebu Daily News
The government’s mandate to care for those with less in life, can’t be realistically met all the time.
That’s clear in the problem of the Cebu City government which has to prepare for liveable relocation sites to deal with the displacement of 10,000 illegal riverside settlers.
A good number of these settlers come from towns in Cebu or migrated from other provinces hoping to find a better life in the big city.
Some found the rent-free creeks a good place to nest.
Other settlers landed there after being displaced by fire, floods or were told to move out because they occupy private or government property.
Provincial Ordinance 93-1 allowed long-staying occupants to pay by installment for province-owned lots in Cebu City.
Not all families have paid up, insisting that under a previous agreement they were beneficiaries of a government land reform program which entitles them to stay for free.
They were mistaken.
Now they find themselves groping for local government assistance whenever a court rejects their claim of tenure, with the expectation that again they would get to live in whatever lot they occupied free of charge.
Housing and urban land reform laws, while leaning towards the underprivileged, don’t promise freebies to the poor.
The government offers schemes for them to legaize their stay such as Ordinance 93-1 and the community mortgage program, where settlers who organize themselves can avail of fund assistance to acquire property as a group and pay by installment over 25 years.
The desire of Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama to move out 10,000 families living in danger zones by creeks and river needs careful planning and disciplined execution.
No blueprint has been crafted yet or detailed plans laid out.
Is there enough time to do that before his term ends in June 30 next year?
The vacant city lots in remote, craggy, upland areas like Laguerta and Budlaan aren’t inhabitable at this stage, according to City Hall’s urban poor office.
To pour in millions to level the sites, put in facilities and build shelters, no matter how simple, would be a major investment, which the City Council is not in a mood to spend for.
This is the start of the last rainy season of Rama’s term as mayor.
Rama may be the mayor with the most earnest desire to relocate the creek dwellers but he’s running out of time.
More from this Column:
- Look forward to cooperation
- To concede is an act of grace
- Cleaning up
- For Cebu City in three years
- Plugging the holes