Press Release
November 4, 2016


Sen. Grace Poe has filed a bill seeking to provide homes for informal settler families (ISFs) under an on-site, in-city or near-city resettlement program while ensuring the provision of basic services and livelihood opportunities.

"We recognize the essential role of housing in ensuring human dignity, especially for the poor. Equal opportunities must be afforded to every Filipino citizen and the government must address the precarious situation that homeless families are facing," Poe said in filing Senate Bill No. 1216, underscoring the need for "adequate and genuine consultation" in the process of resettlement of ISFs.

The measure seeks to amend Republic Act (RA) No. 7279 or the Urban Development and Housing Act of 1992, particularly providing for critical mechanisms that empower ISFs and make them active partners in the planning and management of their own resettlement.

While greater Metro Manila area and other highly urbanized cities generate more than 80 percent of national GDP, rapid urbanization has resulted in the lack of adequate housing and basic services, especially for the poor.

The senator noted that ISFs--numbering about 1.5 million across the Philippines, with 40 percent or 600,000 of homeless families concentrated in Metro Manila--are the most affected sector on matters related to urbanization and adequate housing.

Poe's bill aims to breathe life to the constitutional provision enshrined in Article XIII, Sec. 10 which states that "[u]rban or rural poor dwellers shall not be evicted nor their dwellings demolished, except in accordance with law and in a just and humane manner. No resettlement of urban or rural dwellers shall be undertaken without adequate consultation with them and the communities where they are to be relocated."

"ISFs are hardly consulted on their needs and concerns. They are mostly relocated to "off-site" resettlement areas that lack basic services such as electricity, potable water, functional transport systems and adequate employment opportunities, contrary to the intent of RA 7279," Poe said.

The state housing department reported that 73,723 housing units (85.54 percent) were constructed off-site for ISFs, while only 12,464 units (14.46 percent) were built in-city or near city.

Under the measure, partner local government units are mandated to provide basic services such as schools and health centers and employment and livelihood in resettlement sites.

The bill provides for the formation of the affected ISFs into a beneficiary association that will formulate a "People's Plan" through a process involving adequate and genuine consultation in coordination with the Presidential Commission for the Urban Poor.

"We must ensure the highest protection of every citizen's right to human dignity," Poe emphasized.

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