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An official of the Makati City Social Welfare Department on Sunday reiterated the city government fulfilled its promise to former residents who were relocated to the Makati Homeville resettlement area in Laguna.
In a press release, officer-in-charge Ryan Barcelo explained that the city government had promised relocatees free land where they could build their homes.
“Doon sa dayalogo bago po sila nilipat, klaro po na ang ikinomit ng Makati ay libreng lupa. It was supposed to be their responsibility to put up their houses. Kaya nga po that time, may nag-assist sa kanilang mga trucks na nagdadala ng housing materials na gagamitin nila sa pag-construct ng mga bahay dito,” Barcelo said.
“Basically, 'yung responsibility ng Lungsod ng Makati dito sa relocatees sa Makati Homebille ay nagampanan na,” he added.
Barcelo, together with Vice President Jejomar Binay, visited the relocation site on Sunday.
The Makati government, while Vice President Binay was mayor, allegedly spent P1.2 billion on a relocation site in Laguna that until now does not have decent houses, electricity and water supply, lawyer Renato Bondal told a Senate hearing last week.
The lawyer claimed P120 million was used to procure land, while P900 million was spent for development, which came in two phases.
Despite the millions spent on the relocation site, Bondal showed pictures of supposed housing units that looked more like shanties.
But Barcelo said the city was never supposed to shoulder the costs of putting up housing structures for the relocatees, who came from Makati’s informal settler communities.
He noted that it was then-mayor Binay’s initiative to build houses since residents were having a difficult time setting up their new homes.
“Over the years, nakita ni Mayor Binay na medyo hindi ganoon kabilis ang pagset up ng houses ng mga residente kaya minabuti na rin ng aming punong-lungsod na magpatayo ng mga housing units,” he said.
Meanwhile, Barcelo denied that relocatees have no access to water and electricity, saying water pumps around the resettlement area abound, and residents are free to fetch water from them. However, he admitted that residents are yet to have running water in their homes.
“May access sa tubig. Mayroon tayong mga water projects sa lugar. Kung ang tinatanong ay direct access, meaning yong pagpasok ng tubig sa bawat household, may proseso po yan. Ginagawan na po natin ng paraan na makabitan na sila ng tubig sa bawat tahanan so that they can have direct access to water. But certainly, they have access to water. Marami po tayong pumps around,” he said.
As for electricity. Barcelo said it was a matter of residents paying the activation costs.
“Ginawan na rin po ng aksyon ng city government yong koneksyon nila sa kuryente. These houses, nakakabit na yan sa electrical lines. It’s just a matter of activating it. Pero ang pag-activate nun, sila na po yun because they have to pay the activation fee,” he said. — Patricia Denise Chiu/JDS, GMA News