‘Green’ houses for Manila’s informal settlers


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The micro-medium-rise buildings on Estero de San Miguel can withstand up to magnitude 7 earthquakes

'DANGER ZONES.' A worker collects garbage from an estero in Quiapo, Manila. Families living in Estero de Quiapo will also be moved to 'green houses.' File photo by EPA

MANILA, Philippines – Informal settler families from Manila will be moving in to environment-friendly and earthquake-proof houses, as part of the government’s “Oplan Likas.”

Under the program, informal settlers living in esteros or waterways will be relocated to “safer” areas. The program is also part of the government’s anti-flooding measures for Metro Manila.

According to a statement from the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), 577 families from Sampaloc, Manila, will move into units along Estero de San Miguel, in Legarda Steet, Manila. DILG Secretary Mar Roxas was quoted in the statement as saying that the Estero de San Miguel micro-medium-rise building is “unique” because of features that allow the conservation of power and water.

The micro-medium-rise buildings, according to the DILG, were designed to fit outside the 3-meter easement along the estero.

According to architect Albert Santos Zambrano of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), the housing units have a rainwater harvesting system and cross ventilation that allows air to pass through the units. Units were also built to withstand earthquakes of up to magnitude 7 in intensity.

The relocation program involved the DILG, DSWD, and the Public Works and Highways, and Environment departments. 

Community participation

The community itself took part in identifying the in-city relocation sites, compared to most of government’s programs which move families to relocation sites outside the metro. Many families end up returning to or moving to other informal settlements so they live nearer their places of work.

Still, according to residents, at least 15 families from the site will have to move to an out-of-city relocation area in San Jose del Monte, Bulacan. (READ: Estero de San Miguel: Where every settler is a Soriano)

Payment schemes for the “green” housing units depend on the income of families. Families pay as low as P300 a month, while those with an income of at least P15,000 a month pay P1,000. Families can pay for up to 30 years.

So far, only model units have been completed but government has “fast-tracked” the completion of all units so 105 families can relocate immediately. The model units accommodate 16 families, who will live in 18-square-meter spaces.

Informal settlers from Estero de San Miguel, P. Casal Street, Estero de San Sebastian, and Estero de Quiapo will also be part of the program. – Rappler.com

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