From informal settlers to new homeowners.

This was how Secretary of the Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas envisioned the transformation of the lives of 765 informal settler families from Brgy. Apolonio Samson, Quezon City, who will soon hold the keys to their new homes.

After visiting the proposed construction site in Kaingin Bukid, Roxas signed the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) yesterday between the DILG and the Quezon City Government, granting the latter a sum of P100 million for the construction of more than 800 brand new, safe, and high quality houses, as part of the national government’s public safety and relocation program.

Pera po ninyo ito na hindi ninakaw, hindi ginamit sa masama, at ngayo’y ibinabalik sa tao,” Roxas told around 500 residents of Brgy. Apolonio Samson in attendance.

He also joined Mayor Herbert Bautista and 6th District Rep. Kit Belmonte in unveiling the proposed subdivision scheme for the on-site relocation project for the people of Brgy. Apolonio Samson.

“A picture tells a thousand words. At dito makikita natin ang larawan ng tagumpay,” Roxas told the audience, who shouted and cheered in excitement for their new homes.

Roxas took time to share with the audience his own anxiety over their current living conditions, which are prone to perennial hazards.

Kaingin Bukid is located near the San Juan River and has always been prone to regular floods. At nighttime, the flood reaches up to an average of seven feet, posing significant danger for the children and the elderly in the area.

In addition, a fire ravaged the homes of more than 2,000 families who lived in the area last January 1, leading to widespread devastation of the families’ lives.

In response, the DILG, in cooperation with the local government of Quezon City, intervened and came up with the project that was a product of collaboration among various stakeholders.

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In his speech, Roxas likened the project to a human hand with five fingers, which cannot work properly and effectively without even one of the “fingers,” referring to the main stakeholders in the project.

He mentioned the national government composed of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), Presidential Commission on the Urban Poor (PCUP), DILG, and the Office of the President; the legislature that allotted funds for the project through the General Appropriations Act of 2014; the local government unit (LGU); the barangays, that are closest to constituents; and the people themselves who actively participated in finalizing the People’s Plan.

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This is a distinct feature of DILG’s relocation program called OPLAN Likas where the people themselves determine the terms of their relocation through the active participation of people’s organizations (POs) in communities.

Dito makikita natin ang whole of government approach. Ibig sabihin, buong pamahalaan ang dinala para tingnan ang isang problema at ambag-ambagan, gumawa ng solusyon,” Roxas stressed.

In 2013, the President directed Roxas to immediately spearhead the transfer of informal settler families (ISFs) living in dangerous and high-risk areas to decent relocation sites within and outside Metro Manila cities.

This is also part of President Aquino’s social contract with the Filipino people, expressing the administration’s “commitment to inclusive urban development,” that is translated through programs such as OPLAN Likas, which aims to assist ISFs in transferring to safer homes and in building stronger communities with sufficient economic and social capital.