Evicting from danger zone

THE Tuesday tragedy that resulted to the death of two people and injury of two others after an adobe wall, which obviously was weakened by the incessant rains for days, was enough warning for Valenzuela City Mayor Sherwin “Win” Gatchalian to take the initiative by ordering a forced eviction of the affected families.

Numbering to at least 116 individuals or 25 families, the informal settlers who have been reportedly living in the danger zone being the site of transmission lines in Sitio Kabatuhan in Barangay Gen. T. De Leon for more than two decades had to give in to the desire of the city government to have them removed even against their will as the mayor doesn’t want a repeat of the unfortunate incident.

Instead of passing the  buck, the mayor, who was glued the whole day at the site where he personally supervised the retrieval of the body of one of the two fa-talities who was pinned to his death by the collapsing adobe wall, presided over a meeting the next day with concerned City Hall officials led by local police chief Senior Supt. Wilben Mayor to carry out the clearing operations.

He says: “We want to clarify that we are not conducting demo-lition of structures here. What we do is clearing operation in order to keep all illegal structures including those houses built by informal settlers away from the danger zone.”

Realizing the persistent and certain risk on their lives, some of the affected families, who might have relatives in the city or in the metropolis, voluntarily tore down their structures while the others had to wait for the help from the engineering office to dismantle their shanties.

Amenable that the local go-vernment couldn’t be able to pro-vide for their relocation site as it’s been expensive to find one in the city, Mayor Gatchalian made sure that all the much-needed help is extended to the affected families who initially received some P5, 000 in the form of financial assis-tance.

This writer was told that those who decide to return to their respective provinces can avail of the support of the city government as part of the “Balik-Probinsya” program.

Though the local government has already taken the necessary steps to secure the area and protect the residents particularly those living beyond the danger zone in the village, Mayor Gatchalian says the national government agencies concerned should have been more responsible and such tragedy could not have happened if they did their share.

Costly Male Urinals

How much more is actually being put to waste out of the taxpayers’ hard-earned money because of corruption and total negligence of government officials who are supposed to protect the public funds which should be used for projects that directly benefit the people?

Take for example the recent discovery of the Commission on Audit regarding the wasted millions of pesos of funds that were used by the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority under former Chairman Bayani Fernando for male urinals which were purchased but were not installed at all.

Culled from a COA report, the MMDA started acquiring 1,040 units of male urinals worth P26.25 million between 2003 and 2009. Although 477 units were subsequently installed, these units were not properly maintained.

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