MANDALUYONG CITY – An infrastructure-oriented thinktank called on President Rodrigo Duterte to deliver on his commitment to implement urban land reform by starting with the distribution of Welfareville, a densely-populated urban poor community situated on government land in Mandaluyong City.
“Welfareville is one fo the lowest hanging fruit for urban land reform. With the President’s pronouncement, it is now only a matter of decisive political will by the President to make sure that tens of thousands of families in the area will finally be given houses to call their own.”
This was the statement of Terry Ridon, Infrawatch PH convenor and former urban poor chief of Mr. Duterte.
Distribution mechanism already in place
Ridon said as early as 1994, then President Fidel Ramos issued Executive Order No. 156 to facilitate the development of Welfareville for socialized housing.
“Discussions over the distribution of the Welfareville property had always been stalled, particularly because there was no clear direction yet from Malacanang nor the DSWD on how to proceed with developing the compound. With the President’s new commitment, this property should be identified as the top priority.”
Ridon said that the President should also consider giving away the property at the least cost, if not free, because pricing it at current property rates will certainly make the area absolutely unaffordable to urban poor families.
Commercial interests should give way to socialized housing
Ridon also said that Welfareville’s distribution has also been delayed due to interests from the private sector to develop the area for commercial purposes.
“It cannot be denied that Welfareville sits on parcels upon parcels of prime real estate in Metro Manila. But given the President’s pronouncement, commercial interests should give way to afford justice to Welfareville’s longtime urban poor residents.”
Ridon said developing Welfareville for socialized housing not only gives security of land tenure to its residents, but also ensures that the community can implement infrastructure improvements for water, electricity and fire prevention.
“It should be noted that the area has been one of the hardest hit in the recent water crisis, and it has also experienced, almost annually, very severe fire incidents.
President familiar with Welfareville
Ridon said Mr. Duterte is familiar with the Welfareville compound because he visited the area in 2016 when the former was still chair of the Presidential Commission for the Urban Poor.
“The President visited Mandaluyong and we accompanied him together with Mayor Carmelita Abalos for the agency’s urban poor anniversary. Certainly, he knows of the Mandaluyong folks’ plight, and Welfareville is the best place to deliver the promise on urban land reform.” [BicolToday.com]