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Water, power cut to force 10,000 families off Bilibid land

By: - Reporter / @dexcabalzaINQ
/ 07:20 AM March 27, 2019
Water, power cut to force 10,000 families off Bilibid land

UP FOR EVICTION This girl’s family has been forced to demolish their house days after being ordered by the Bureau of Corrections to vacate the 367-hectare New Bilibid Prison property in Muntinlupa City, which the government intends to privatize for mixed-use development. —EDWIN BACASMAS

Water and electricity have been ordered cut to force more than 10,000 families to leave the 367-hectare property of New Bilibid Prison (NBP) in Muntinlupa City, which the government intends to privatize for mixed-use development.

The move by the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor), an agency under the Department of Justice (DOJ), for its “heartless” and “antipoor” way of evicting the residents, mostly relatives of convicts.

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Bella Diaz, president of the Kalipunan ng mga Mamamayan na Pinagkaisa ng NBP (Kampina), said it was BuCor chief Nicanor Faeldon who ordered that water and electricity be cut. Kampina is an umbrella organization of neighborhood groups at NBP.

15 days to leave

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In a letter dated March 5, the residents were given 15 days by the bureau to leave their houses in Barangay Poblacion as they were illegally occupying government property. Those who work at BuCor were not given the notice.

“The New Bilibid Prison Reservation is a public place and danger area because convicted felons are found in the prison reservation,” the letter read.

Bucor said it would forcibly eject families that insist on staying in order to protect government interest.

Development plan, Senate

In a radio interview, Faeldon said he had been instructed by the Senate to rid the NBP Reservation area of informal settlers to start the implementation of the NBP Master Development Plan.

The plan is based on Proclamation No. 1159, which was signed by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo on Sept. 8, 2006.

In the last master plan drawn up during the term of President Benigno Aquino III, the facilities of BuCor and national penitentiary would be moved to a bigger, more modern prison facility at Fort Magsaysay in Laur, Nueva Ecija province.

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3 possible sites

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra, however, said the DOJ had not yet made a final decision on the new NBP site, and that it was looking at three possible locations.

Last week, BuCor posted an advisory at Bilibid’s Gate 1 “strictly prohibiting” the entry of construction materials and water delivery inside the NBP Reservation.

This was confirmed by Tez Navarro, Muntinlupa City information officer, who said that the bureau had told the local government during a meeting last month to stop sending water rations “so the residents would move out.”

Kampina president Diaz said the affected residents were being assisted by neighbors.

Faeldon, however, ordered BuCor employees not to share their water and electricity with the informal settlers.

Small stores and other establishments owned by the residents were also told to stop operating. When the Inquirer visited the area on Monday, the stores on Bilibid Road were all closed.

To buy their daily necessities in the market in Poblacion, residents have to walk a kilometer from Gate 1 or take a P10 tricycle ride.

“Do you still have compassion? You make the lives of poor people like us miserable. You can’t make us leave but you’re killing us slowly,” Diaz said of Faeldon.

Affordable housing loan

Diaz, who has been living at the NBP reservation for more than 30 years, said she and the other residents were not against the master development plan.

“We just wanted to be given the land for our homes, or if they can’t give it to us for free, provide us an affordable housing loan,” she said.

The local government of Muntinlupa said it could not “do anything” to stop the BuCor from evicting the residents as the site is national government land.

Alita Ramirez, head of the city’s Urban Poor Affairs Office, said the residents could avail themselves of the “balik probinsya” program and P5,000 financial assistance.

Ramirez said the local government had asked Faeldon to postpone the eviction until after the election season.

Mixed-use development

Under the NBP Master Development Plan, the remaining 366.7-ha land of the NBP Reservation would be developed as:

Residential: 139 ha (two government housing projects and two socialized housing)

[In 1992, 104.22 ha of NBP land had already been set aside for a housing project called Katarungan Village, now occupied by employees of the DOJ and its attached agencies.]

Institutional: 14 ha (government center, NBP headquarters, National Mapping and Resource Information Authority site and NBP Japanese cemetery)

Commercial: 138 ha (mixed commercial-residential)

Open space: 75.7 ha (three open spaces and Daang Hari-South Luzon Expressway)

[The Muntinlupa-Cavite Expressway opened in July 2015 and connected SLEx and Daang Hari.]

The NBP Reservation area is prime property as it sits next to the posh Ayala Alabang Village.

The reservation is bigger than the tracts of public land privatized by the national government in Metro Manila in the 1990s—Fort Bonifacio in Taguig City, now BGC or Bonifacio Global City, and Alabang stock farm in Muntinlupa, now Filinvest City.

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TAGS: Bella Diaz, Kampina, NBP Reservation, New Bilibid Prison, Nicanor Faeldon
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