De Lima seeks Senate probe of 2 ‘Build, Build, Build’ projects
Senator Leila de Lima has called for a Senate probe into the construction of two projects under the “Build, Build, Build” program which would displace some 180,000 families in Metro Manila.
The senator filed Senate Resolution No. 927, which urged the appropriate Senate committee to look into the impending demolition of thousands of residents’ homes in 38 communities in Manila affected by the construction of the P23 billion North Luzon Expressway—South Luzon Expressway (NLEX-SLEX) Connector Road Project and the P171 billion North-South Commuter Railway Project.
“Mega-infrastructure projects such as these rarely, if at all, mention the social costs of these endeavors, particularly the physical and economic displacement of thousands of people just to give way for their construction in Metro Manila’s densely populated areas,” she said in a statement on Sunday.
“Some residents of Sampaloc, Manila have long been apprehensive of their forcible eviction and relocation to give way for the construction of these projects. They have repeatedly stressed that the concerned agencies have failed to adequately consult with them concerning the right-of-way negotiations,” she added.
The Build, Build, Build (BBB) program, which is the centerpiece program of the Duterte administration, was scheduled to roll out the NLEX-SLEX Connector Road Project and the North-South Commuter Railway Project this year, De Lima noted.
However, according to the senator, these two construction projects will result in the massive demolition of houses in at least 38 barangays in Manila composed mainly of homes and small businesses. Thousands are reportedly to be relocated to far and inaccessible sites.
De Lima, who chairs the Senate committee on social justice, welfare and rural development, pointed out that wrong displacement and relocation of these affected residents would further exacerbate economic and social problems.
She added that the relocation of affected residents to unfamiliar locales would result to zero-to-low occupancy rates of the housing projects due to lack of access to livelihood opportunities, power, water, community facilities, and poor estate management.
“There is a need to closely scrutinize the plan of our government agencies with respect to urban development regarding these projects and give due consideration and proper recognition to the individuals and families who stand to be uprooted,” De Lima said.
“The government should ensure that the rights and interests of the people, first and foremost, are safeguarded and protected, and as such, should exercise due diligence and exhaust all possible alternatives prior to the development of any infrastructure project that involves the acquisition of private lands and the relocation of its inhabitants,” she added.
The senator, meanwhile called on the government to make changes in its National Resettlement Policy Framework and operationalize it through an executive order or a law that would set up a clear roadmap to address gaps in “no relocation, no demolition” policy.
“There is a need for the government to ensure that in its ‘Build, Build, Build’ program, essential institutional reforms are simultaneously undertaken,” De Lima noted. /je
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