RODRIGUEZ, Rizal – “This place is more dangerous than from where we were before,” said Yolanda Ofaga, who has been residing for more than 4 years in Kasiglahan village as she recalls the yearly flooding in their community.
She added that they find it ironic when they were relocated at Kasiglahan, a resettlement housing village in the province of Rizal for the urban poor in Metro Manila.
“Kaya kami dinala dito ay para mabuhay, pero para kaming mamamatay (We were relocated here supposedly to live, but it seemed like we are dying here),” she said.
She said that they were promised a livelihood near the relocation site, but until now the promise remained a promise yet to be fulfilled.
The recent typhoon Mario left questions and doubts to the residents of Kasiglahan Village, as to how their houses were built and why they were moved outside the city given the Php 10 billion allocation for the supposed in-city relocation project.
According to Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD)– Region IV where Rizal province belongs, there were 2,649 families that were evacuated into 21 centers. Majority of them lived in Kasiglahan village.
“We never thought that when we opened the door, the water was already there. I made my wife, daughter, and grandchild evacuate first since I cannot walk properly,” said Danilo Sinangote, who have been staying in the relocation area for 2 years already.
Sinangote has just been discharged from the hospital after a major hospital operation, due to complications on his knee and heart.
He added that if it weren’t for the help of the community members, he wouldn’t be able to get to the evacuation center.
According to Eduardo Almadin, cluster leader in 1-K1 of Kasiglahan Village, it is good that they still manage to survive the heavy rains, but he questioned on what would be their fate if the calamity would be an earthquake.
The common concern in the community that Almadin told the media is that most houses were not that sturdy. They claimed that an old man’s kick could even rattle the cement walls.
The Kasiglahan Village was part of NHA’s in-city housing project that caters to informal settlers who are residing in the “dangerous areas” in the National Capital Region (NCR).
According to the Department of Budget and Management (DMB), the project had an annual allotment of Php 10 billion coursed through the National Housing Authority (NHA).
Last October 7, residents of Kasiglahan village had a dialogue with the NHA regional office and the contractor of the project, New San Jose Builders (NSJB).
After the dialogue, Davao Today asked Engr. Rene Samson of NSJB for comment, but he declined to give his side when asked on the construction cost of the housing units.
Where is the fund?
During on the dialogue, Carlito Badion, National Secretary General of Kadamay (Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap) and a resident of Kasiglahan questioned the representative of NHA as to where the supposed fund allocation for their community pooled from the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) went.
Each relocatees of Kasiglahan are required to pay their respective housing units of up to P160,000 in 25 years.
NHA – IV Officer in Charge for Projects in Rizal, Elizabeth Matipo said that the Php 10 billion fund from the DBM was not allocated for the Kasiglahan Village.
She added that the amortization from the relocatees will serve as the “funds” for another group of relocatees that are still residing in dangerous areas in NCR.
Badion said that the government is “now putting the burden to the marginalized sector where in fact that, there is a yearly budget allotment from DBM for the informal settlers.”
“Although we know that we cannot achieve what we demand during dialogues, we still pursue it so that our people will know for themselves that the government is lying through its teeth,” Badion added. (davaotoday.com)
*Finalist, Best Workshop Output (Professional Journalist Category) during the 18th Graciano Lopez Jaena Community Journalism Workshop held at the University of the Philippines Diliman College of Mass Communication Auditorium (Oct 3-8, 2014).