A human rights view on housing takes shape in Bulacan town
CITY OF SAN JOSE DEL MONTE—The year 2018 would be brighter for Arlene Mercado, 46, a laundry woman from Caloocan City.
Mercado and more than 500 families are getting new homes in 26 medium-rise condominiums built largely by civil society groups in the village of Muzon here.
Mercado had lived near a creek in a village called 178 in Caloocan for years with her husband, a construction worker, and their four children.
But living near a waterway presented its risks, convincing them to resettle at the Aniban Para sa Lehitimong Paninirahan Ligtas sa Sakuna (Alpas) housing project in Mountain View Subdivision at Sitio Harmony 1 in Muzon.
Nongovernment organizations have encouraged informal settlers, like Mercado, to take part in planning their new relocation site. The result of this process was unveiled in a program on Saturday by the human rights group, Kilos Maralita.
An initial batch of 546 units was blessed by local pastors during the program. A second batch of 26 units in a housing site, to be called Alpas 2, would be built for other displaced families, mostly from Caloocan, according to Nick Yaranon, Kilos Maralita project coordinator.
“We never thought we would get our dream house—and a much better house than we ever imagined. It’s our Christmas gift,” Mercado said.
Alpas will take in families displaced from the villages of 173, 177, 176, 178, 179, 186 and 187 in Caloocan, after their homes have been classified as located in danger zones.
Kilos Maralita undertook the project in 2011 using P9 billion from the P50-billion Metro Manila Informal Settlers Project of former President Benigno Aquino III. The project was overseen by the Department of the Interior and Local Government, which identified the beneficiaries.
“Planning the resettlement community was human rights-based,” said Etta Rosales, former Akbayan party-list group representative.
In a statement, Rosales said beneficiaries had been rescued from “the perennial risks to being victims of natural disasters like floods and overflowing creeks and rivers.”
She said the settlers would also be spared from the “threat of demolition, the risks of ‘tokhang’ operations and the isolation from access to work, education, health and delivery of social services.”