Mayor Joseph “Erap” Estrada will put up another housing project in Baseco Compound, one of the city’s biggest urban poor communities, in pursuit of his vision of “slum-free” Manila.
Estrada said he is set to sign a partnership agreement with Tzu Chi Foundation Philippines Inc. for the construction of a mass housing project within the slum community that will initially benefit more than 100 informal settler families.
“As long as we can, every poor, homeless family, not only in Baseco but also in other poor communities here in Manila, will be provided with decent home. This is our vision, our dream—a ‘slum-free’ Manila,” Estrada said.
With housing as a fundamental human right, Estrada said it is only proper that government resources be used to alleviate the living conditions of indigent people.
“Everyone, especially the poor, should have access to a safe, secure and habitable home with freedom from forced eviction. It is the government’s obligation to guarantee that everyone can exercise this right to live in security, peace, and dignity,” said Estrada.
In their initial talks, Tzu Chi Foundation has agreed to work with the city government in putting up a new housing village in Baseco, an impoverished community in Port Area populated by close to 60,000 people.
The Taiwan-based group is the world’s biggest Buddhist humanitarian organization and has been in the Philippines for 22 years now doing various programs in disaster relief and rehabilitation, education, medicine, and environmental protection, among others.
Danny Isiderio, chief of the city’s Urban Settlements Office, said they have identified a one-hectare land in Baseco where the new housing village will be put up.
“Tzu Chi is now completing all the documentary requirements. They have agreed to finance the project. Based on what has been discussed initially, walang babayaran ‘yung mga magiging beneficiaries,” Isiderio said.
The housing site will also have a school, church, and other amenities, and sources of livelihood for the residents, according to the USO official.
The planned housing project will complement the P44.5-million housing village in Sitio Dubai, Baseco put up by the city government on February 2016 in cooperation with the Department of Interior and Local Government-Manila.
The 3.5-hectare housing site aims to provide permanent settlement to hundreds of ISFs in the destitute community; at least 79 ISFs were given their own house-and-lots by the city government so far.
With usufruct rights, the Dubai housing beneficiaries virtually own the property in an indefinite period. However, they are strictly prohibited to sell, lease, or have it mortgaged.
Urban housing has been Estrada’s top priority since being elected in 2013.
On top of the Dubai housing project, he has been continuously implementing the city’s “Land-for-the-Landless Program” (LLP), wherein the city government, through expropriation, buys private properties that are distributed to qualified applicants.