Sen. Cynthia Villar commended the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) for donating 5 hectares of land in Tondo, Manila, as relocation site of 2,400 families residing in Parola and Isla Puting Bato.
Villar, chairperson of the Committee on Environment and Natural Resources, has been asking PPA "to do something about the burgeoning number of informal settlement on the coastal area at the port of Manila, which does not only affect the efficacy of the operation of the port, but actually hampers the efforts towards the clean up of Manila Bay."
Last week, Villar joined Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada, Department of Transportation Sec. Art Tugade, Cong. Manuel Lopez, Cong. Albee Benitez, and PPA General Manager Jay Santiago in the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding with the PPA, National Housing Authority, the City Government of Manila, the International Container Terminal Services, and the Manila North Harbour Port Inc. for the donation of the piece of land.
The agreement was a result of a meeting of the House Oversight Committee on Housing to address the delay in the release of titles to the beneficiaries of urban poor housing proclamations issued during the time of Macapagal-Arroyo as president.
"It is within my committee's jurisdiction to see to it na maimplement ang continuing mandamus on Manila bay. Matagal na akong nakikiusap para ayusin na ang informal settlers para magkaroon na sila ng sariling tahanan at para malinis na natin ang Manila Bay," Villar said.
Villar also commended the two former presidents--Macapagal-Arroyo and Estrada, for working together to help the residents of Parola and Isla Puting Bato.
On December 18, 2008, the Supreme Court issued a landmark decision in G.R.No. 171947-48 ordering PPA and 12 other government agencies "to clean up, rehabilitate, and preserve Manila Bay and restore and maintain its waters to SB level to make them fit for swimming, skin diving, and other forms of contact recreation."
About 2,200 housing units will be built in 37 low-rise to mid-rise buildings in the donated piece of land. PPA will also give P1 billion as initial fund for the development of the housing units.
Villar also committed to help provide livelihood projects for the residents after they have settled in their relocation site, similar to the projects she have been doing in Baseco Compound, Tondo.