Eviction looms for railways folk
MANILA, Philippines – Say goodbye to “homes along da riles” in Manila. About 5,000 families living beside the railway tracks in Sta. Mesa, Pandacan and Sampaloc will be evicted in the next few weeks as the Philippine National Railways (PNR) begins its Southrail Rehabilitation Program (SRP).
Some residents in Sampaloc yesterday claimed they were assured they could remain in the area, but Vice President Noli de Castro said they had no choice but to remove every structure within 15 meters of the tracks because the Korean contractor of the project had insisted on it.
“Former officials asked us to stop the relocation, but this time, there would be no more postponement,” De Castro said.
The Vice President, who is also chair of the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council, yesterday met with affected residents in Pandacan where demolition operations have already started, before proceeding to Sampaloc.
With him were Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim, PNR General Manager Jose Maria Sarasola and National Housing Authority General Manager Rico Laxa.
In Pandacan, De Castro said relocated families were given a new lease in life because apart from being given affordable house and lots, they were transferred to sites that had schools, health centers and police precincts. The relocation sites include Cabuyao, Laguna; Trece Martires, Cavite; and Bulacan.
Lim, meanwhile, asked the residents to support the Vice President’s program as he assured them that their relocation to Trece Martires, Cavite, was “for their own good.”
Sampaloc residents, however, said they would rather move to Cabuyao, Laguna, instead of Cavite because of better facilities and job opportunities. De Castro, however, said this was unlikely since around 8,000 people had already been relocated there.