Aquino stops relocation of San Roque residents
PRESIDENT Benigno Aquino III has instructed Executive Secretary Paquito N. Ochoa Jr. to put on hold the relocation of thousands of informal settlers in a property owned by the National Housing Authority (NHA) until the housing agency puts in place a comprehensive and orderly plan.
Ochoa said he has been instructed by President Aquino, who is on official working visit to United States, to order the NHA to suspend the relocation of families living in the government property in Sitio San Roque II in North Triangle, Quezon City to Rodriguez, Rizal.
“The relocation is suspended until the NHA provides a comprehensive plan that will ensure orderliness in the implementation of relocation activities,” Ochoa said.
The suspension does not cover families that have opted to be relocated voluntarily.
At the same time, Ochoa said the President has instructed government authorities to exercise maximum tolerance to avoid any untoward incident.
According to Ochoa, the President was saddened by the turn of events last Thursday and appealed to residents to exercise the right to oppose their transfer in a peaceful manner.
“The President is saddened by the events that transpired yesterday and has ordered the NHA to ensure that any future relocation plan be implemented peacefully,” Ochoa said.
“While the President respects the families’ right to oppose their relocation to Rizal, he nonetheless calls on them to exercise their right to protest in a peaceful manner. He has likewise instructed all authorities to exercise maximum tolerance and is confident that the issue will be resolved by the parties involved,” he added.
Some 6,000 families on the 340-hectare NHA lot are being transferred to a relocation site in Rizal to give way to the housing agency’s plan to develop the North Triangle property into the Quezon City Business District.
So far around 3,500 families have voluntarily moved to the new relocation site where they were provided houses, a relocation allowance of P6,000 and other support services, the housing agency said.
The NHA Interagency Committee composed of the housing agency, the Commissioner on Human Rights, the Department of Social Welfare and Development, the Presidential Commission on the Urban Poor and the Quezon City government, among others, has conducted a series of dialogues with the residents to discuss their transfer to Rizal.
Families who would be displaced by the development project had been informed of the schedule for relocation last April and another notice was sent out this month, according to NHA. – OPS