July 26, 2017
QUEZON CITY – To ensure that danger areas previously cleared of illegal occupants will not be retaken by informal settlers, Interior and Local Government Secretary Officer-in-Charge Catalino S. Cuy is urging local government units (LGUs) to enact ordinances declaring said areas as "no build zones".
No build zones refer to easement areas defined under existing laws and policies that are not recommended for human habitation by virtue of the danger it poses to human life and/or property.
Cuy made the call as he noted there had been inaction or complacency among certain LGUs despite numerous guidelines issued by the Department on matters of informal settler families and the LGUs role.
“Unless LGUs declare no build zones, ISFs will always be a huge concern and this will be an unending cycle of demolition, clearing, and relocation,” he says.
In the DILG’s recently issued directive, Cuy called on cities and municipalities to ensure that cleared territories remain uninhabited and unoccupied by enacting ordinances barring any construction of residential establishments in said areas.
All barangays were also directed to adopt the city or municipal ordinances regarding danger areas or enact their own barangay ordinance considering that most informal residences live in the barangays.
“Allowing or tolerating informal settlers to build along ‘no build zones’ is a violation of the people’s right to a balanced and healthful ecology,” he stresses.
According to Cuy, “to allow informal settlements along railroad tracks, sidewalks or roads, or in garbage dumps, landfills, public cemeteries, or in parks and playgrounds is an utter disregard to public safety and an affront to human decency.”
To further protect and monitor these areas, he says, cities and municipalities should work with their component barangays in protecting and regularly monitoring said areas by putting up outposts, fences, signage, and/or CCTV cameras.
Section 30 of the Urban Development and Housing Act (UDHA) specifically states that LGUs must prevent the construction of any kind of illegal dwelling units or structures within their respective areas of jurisdiction or face administrative and penal sanctions.
In the case of new ISFs occupying danger areas, the barangay shall issue a notice to be signed by the punong barangay enjoining them to vacate the property within 24 hours.
After the lapse of the period to vacate, the barangay, with the assistance of the police, shall dismantle the structure whether or not the ISF has voluntarily vacated the area.
The Department encourages the concerned city or municipality to use its power to prosecute professional squatters or members of squatting syndicates, and any individual or group who will occupy or cause any other person to occupy cleared areas.