Quezon City Mayor Herbert Bautista has called for the speedy relocation of informal settler families from the BIR Road easement adjacent to the PAGASA complex in Barangay Central, whose continued presence, according to PAGASA officials, has adversely affected certain operational capabilities of the state meteorological agency.
Mayor Bautista made the call in response to the complaint lodged by PAGASA acting administrator Nathaniel Servando requesting the city government to secure the area fronting the agency’s central office building so as to ensure the safety and protection of the specialized facilities and scientific equipment owned by the agency.
“Having our multi-million facilities and equipment in place, we can no longer help but to worry about the safety of these vital installations since these communities pose hazard to them,” said Servando in his letter-complaint.
According to Servando, shanties built higher than 10 meters adversely affected the periodic meteorological readings of PAGASA, which he said, are crucial in making weather forecasts.
The PAGASA acting administrator also held accountable the informal settler families for the unnecessary losses incurred by PAGASA due to illegal tapping of water and electrical power lines.
Further aggravating the agency’s woes, Servando said, are the countless incidence of fire that occurred in the area since the informal settler families occupied the place in 1984. The most recent fire, which broke out in April 11 this year, damaged PAGASA’s power lines and fiber telecommunication cabling system and paralyzed the agency’s data transmission and official transactions.
To date, 576 families along the BIR Road have qualified for the relocation program of the National Housing Authority (NHA) in Montalban, Rizal and at San Jose del Monte, in Bulacan.
The QC urban poor affairs office, along with the Presidential Commission on Urban Poor (PCUP) and the Commission on Human Rights, forms part of the Beneficiary Arbitration and Awards Committee tasked to conduct the pre-qualification process, with the NHA as lead agency.
UPAO head Ramon Asprer reiterated that the committee was very strict in the screening of the applicants to avoid the double awarding of rights to families, who may have already benefitted from previous relocation programs offered by the government.
There is a continuing effort from the city government to relocate urban poor families occupying danger zones and other high risk areas.
Informal settlers encroaching on the sidewalks and road right-of-way at Barangays Santol, South Triangle and Central, including waterways along Barangays Damayang Lagi and Tatalon, are offered priority in the relocation program.
Prior to the implementation of the city’s mass relocation program, the city’s socialized housing task force headed by secretary to the mayor Tadeo Palma, organized a series of dialogue with QC’s 142 barangays to ensure that the city’s clearing operations will be carried out peacefully. -30- Precy/ Ej/ Maureen Quinones, PAISO