Relocation site of Makati poor not damned, says Laguna town mayor
The mayor of Calauan, Laguna, turned emotional at a Senate hearing on Tuesday over media reports that the town has turned into a den of prostitution and criminals.
Mayor Buenafrido Berris faced the Senate blue ribbon subcommittee in connection with the allegedly overpriced housing project in the province for Makati’s relocated urban poor dwellers.
The Makati Homeville project in Laguna was one of two housing projects of the Makati City government where then city mayor and now Vice President Jejomar Binay allegedly made money amounting to P1 billion. The other housing project called the “Friendship Suites” is located in Makati City. Binay though strongly denied the allegations.
“Ibig ko pong ipakiusap na sana ‘wag naman sanang bansagan ang aming bayan na pugad ng prostitution at krimen gaya nang narinig namin sa media,” Berris, who belongs to Binay’s United Nationalist Alliance, told the subcommittee.
(I am appealing that our town be not tagged as a den of prostitution and crime as what is being propagated in the media.)
“Naghihinakit po ang aming mga kababayan sa paratang na ito. Katunayan po ang mga taga-Calauan ay law abiding at masipag. Katunayan po wala pong beer house, bar…sa bayan ng Calauan.”
(My constituents are hurt by these accusations. The people of Calauan are law-abiding and hardworking. In fact, there are no beer houses and bars there.)
“Bagamat malaki ang aming resettlement site, marangal po ang pamumuhay ng mga tao dito at ang pamahalaan ng Calauan ay s’yang pangunahing nagpupursigi upang itaas ang antas ng kabuhayan…” the mayor said.
(While we have a big resettlement site, the people of Calauan are noble, and the government takes it upon itself to raise the level of livelihood there.)
In an article published by the Philippine Daily Inquirer last month, it mentioned that some residents of the Makati Homeville claimed that life was so hard in the resettlement that it forced some women into prostitution.
Berris said that from 54, 248 in 2007, the population in Calauan, Laguna swelled to 74,890 in 2010 because of the number of informal settlers who were relocated from different cities in Metro Manila; 256 poor families from Makati City were relocated to the Makati Homeville project from 2009 to 2010.
“Wala po kaming initial na reklamo. Ang amin lang pong nakikita parang isang subdivision na bago makapasok ang isang gobyerno ay kelangan munang kumuha ng permit sa may ari kung pribado mang subdivision,” he said.
(We have no initial complaints. But we are wondering if, just like in subdivisions, before government authorities are able to enter, we should ask for permit from the subdivision’s owners)
And when local authorities from Calauan would serve a warrant of arrest to any residents of the Makati Homeville, for example, Berris wondered if they would have to go to Makati first to get clearance or permission. IDL
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