Monday, June 2, 2008

190-Hectare Reclamation Project Raises Fears Among Baseco Residents


02 June 2008. Mail brigades have been launched for President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo to see the fear some 10,000 families have of being evicted because of the government’s plan to move them from the land proclaimed for them at the Bataan Shipyard and Engineering Company (Baseco) Compound at the Port Area in Manila.

Baseco residents have filed to MalacaƱang everyday since May 13 to bring the letters the people are writing everyday to the president appealing for help.

On May 13 President Arroyo led the groundbreaking ceremony of the Baseco Reclamation Expansion Project. Phase 1 of the reclamation project is a 10-hectare reclamation project, costing P252 million, to be a socialized housing project for 3,000 families. The reclamation project to be undertaken by Philippine Reclamation Authority (PRA) is located outside the existing 56-hectare Baseco compound that was proclaimed for the 6,000-8,000 resident families in 2002.

The Master plan shows that Phase 2 of the reclamation project, making a total area of 180.14 hectares, includes an oil depot area, dumping ground, anchorage area, buffer zone/inland channel and 135-hectares of saleable lots.

In the letters, the residents thank President Arroyo for having proclaimed Baseco as a socialized housing, but say that up to now no documents have been issued pertaining to the land titles in the reclamation that guarantee security of tenure.

The government says it will reclaim the 10 hectares as proposed and move families there from the 56 hectares. The government will then develop 35 hectares of the 56 hectares proclaimed for commercial purposes.

Urban Poor Associates (UPA), in a press statement, noted that the residents are afraid of the reclamation project due to the following points:

- There are plans for 3,000 families. What will happen to all the other families?

- It is not clear who the beneficiaries are. Will it be only families censused in 2001? What of the other thousands of families living there now? (The City of Manila had conducted a survey in 2001 with 6,000 families.)

- Will the 3,000 units be affordable?

- Will the 2,000 houses of Gawad Kalinga and Habitat for Humanity built a short time ago with private donations of P60 million remain or will they be removed?

- Who is the main stakeholder in this huge venture? Where will financing come from?

- Does the fact that the land is proclaimed limit what uses can be made of it? If it was proclaimed for homes, can it be used for commerce?

According to UPA, a housing rights NGO, the Land Proclamation program of the government, 2001-2004 set aside government lands for the homes of the poor. Some 200,000 families lived on these lands and benefited. However, there have been few proclamations after the 2004 presidential elections. Some of the proclamations are being amended or radically changed; and finally, there has been no follow-up upgrading and titling program in these areas which means the fear of forced eviction is ever present. ###

Manila's informal settlers wary about reclamation project

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