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Manila estero settlers get ‘best Valentine gift’

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10:20 PM February 14th, 2013

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February 14th, 2013 10:20 PM

AN ARTIST’S concept of the mid-rise homes awaiting some 160 squatter families

Informal settlers along a waterway in Manila posted heart-shaped notes on trees expressing their gratitude as they witnessed the groundbreaking rites for a housing project on Thursday.

“This is the best gift we will receive for Valentine’s Day,” said Filomena Cinco, chair of Barangay (village) 412 which lies along Estero de San Miguel in Sampaloc. “We are really excited just seeing the picture of our new houses.”

“I can now sleep soundly at night together with my children,” added Maryjane Delatavo, a mother of eight, in a note addressed to President Aquino.

The notes welcomed the construction of “micro medium-rise buildings (MRBs)” for 160 families, which will be financed through the P10-billion fund committed by the President for the in-city resettlement of urban poor families.

“This is the fruit of the dialogues held among the stakeholders. You have a big contribution because what happens here is what will happen in the rest of Metro Manila,” Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas told the gathering, alluding to the government’s flood-control program that will entail the resettlement of families living along waterways.

He said there are around 105,000 families living in danger zones in Metro Manila, of whom 20,000 will be relocated by next year.

Before he died in a plane crash last year, then Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo was overseeing the project’s technical working group composed of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA), the Department of Social Work and Development (DSWD) and the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH).

The MRBs will have flood buffers and a rainfall collection system based on the design made by architect Felino Palafox and adopted by architect Albert Zambrano of Mapua Insitute of Technology School of Architecture, Industrial Design and Built Environment.

The beneficiaries will pay for the unit through the Community Mortgage Plan (CMP) of Social Housing Financing Corp. (SHFC),  the lead agency that undertakes socialized housing programs for the formal and informal sectors in the low-income bracket.

SHFC president Maria Ana Oliveros recently signed an agreement with Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim creating a CMP express lane or one-stop shop for loan applications.

At P490,000 per housing unit, the beneficiaries will pay P500 to P700 in subsidized monthly amortization for 25 years, Cinco said.

In a statement, the group Urban Poor Associates said it will closely monitor the progress of the project to avoid a repeat of what happened in a similar undertaking in Pasay City, where not a single post had been erected long after the groundbreaking rites held last year.

According to Cinco, that Pasay housing project was stopped due to irregularities concerning the list of beneficiaries.

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