DELAYED COMPLETION. Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu in a meeting with Senator Loren Legarda and Antique Governor Rhodora Cadiao over the Malandog River Rehablitation and Development Project in Barangay Malandog, San Jose de Buenavista, Antique on March 22, 2019. Informal settlers along the river banks hinder the completion of slope protection project. (Photo courtesy of DENR-6)
SAN JOSE DE BUENAVISTA, Antique -- The Antique government is set to relocate 39 families living along the river banks to complete the construction of the PHP24.6 million riverbank slope protection funded by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).
Ruth C. Martinez, Malandog River Rehabilitation and Development Project Management Officer, said on Saturday they had been looking for a relocation site for families, considered as informal settlers, since last year.
“We have difficulty looking for the relocation site which is also near the river as requested by the families because of fishing is their livelihood,” Martinez said.
She said during their meeting with DENR Secretary Roy Cimatu, Senator Loren Legarda, Antique Governor Rhodora J. Cadiao and the other DENR officials last March 22 at the New Antique Capitol, the secretary wanted the relocation of the informal settlers to be made priority so that the 221.6 lineal meter slope protection would be finished soon.
“Department of Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Cimatu during a meeting then had asked the provincial government to give priority to the relocation of the informal settlers who are considered as bottleneck to the project,” Martinez said.
As of January 2019, she said the contractor, ER Venzon Construction, has only reported a 40.05 percent accomplishment because of the problem with the informal settlers before they could proceed with their work.
Martinez added that last November when the contractor started their work, the provincial government was able to successfully negotiate with the first 27 families affected by the project to move out of the river banks.
“These 27 families are right now temporarily staying with their relatives while waiting for the relocation site,” she said.
Martinez said a total of 66 families are waiting to be relocated and “each is being proposed to be given 60 square meter lot as relocation site.”
She said the provincial government has a Provincial Housing Unit headed by Ebby Butiong at the capitol.
“If there are lot owners who would like to sell their lot for relocation site they can get in touch with Ebby Butiong,” she said.
Martinez, however, said the provincial government, before it purchases the relocation site, needs to get the approval of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau to ensure that it is not on the “no build zone”.
The slope protection is the infrastructure component of the Malandog River Rehabilitation and Development Project that aims to clean up and promote as eco-tourism site the historic river, where the 10 Bornean datus considered as the country’s Malay ancestors first established their barangay.
Relocating the informal settlers from the river bank would also reduce the high coliform count in the body of water, which according to the DENR, is mainly contributed by human waste. (PNA)