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Robredo backs Duterte's relocation-before-demolition order

Vice President and Housing czar Leni Robredo on Tuesday expressed her support for President Rodrigo Duterte's pronouncement that demolition will not be allowed unless residents are assured of relocation.

Robredo, appointed as chief of the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC) earlier this month, said they will work on giving "safe and sustainable housing" for affected families.

She said this includes building these houses in areas where there is access to schools and livelihood.

"We support President Rodrigo Duterte's statement regarding the importance of relocatable, safe, and sustainable housing for Filipinos who are about to be relocated," she said in a statement.

She added: "We believe in advocating for the dignity of those who are relocated, and that necessitates houses that have connections to electrical lines and have running water. Moreover, relocation sites should also be areas where residents may have livelihood options and have access to jobs and schools."

Robredo earlier said she is looking to clear HUDCC's backlog of about 1.4 million houses for survivors of calamities, homeless people, or those living in "delapitated" houses no longer fit for habitation.

She also said they would attempt to streamline the agency's services to make it easier for the poor to avail of them.

In a speech at a Malacañang gathering on Sunday night, Duterte slammed the practice of demolition without relocation for affected residents.

"During my time, there will be no demolition 'pag walang relocation. Hindi ako papayag. Kasi 'yung walang mapuntahan, sirain mo ang bahay, parang aso. Saan pupunta 'yung mga tao? Where will they find another shelter?" he asked.

The President said he would "be very generous" to the affected families.

"I'd look for money, 'yung lahat ng gusto nating gamitin. We will look for a suitable relocation," he said.

He added that new industries must be put up to provide more opportunities for those affected by demolitions.

The Urban Development and Housing Act of 1992 (Republic Act No. 7279) said eviction or demolition "as a practice shall be discouraged," and may be allowed only when:

  • persons or entities occupy danger areas such as esteros, railroad tracks, garbage dumps, riverbanks, shorelines, waterways, and other public places like sidewalks, roads, parks and playgrounds;
  • when government infrastructure projects with available funding are about to be implemented; or
  • when there is a court order for such.

Affected "underprivileged and homeless citizens" must be given notice at least 30 days before the date of the eviction or demolition."

They must be given "adequate relocation, whether temporary or permanent." — VVP, GMA News