By John Noel E. Herrera
Iloilo City lone district Rep. Julienne Baronda is seeking additional funds for more housing projects in Iloilo City as informal settlers face relocation due to the city’s Comprehensive Drainage Plan and other projects.
Baronda said that over 2,800 informal settlers living near the creeks in Iloilo City must be relocated as the city prepares for the construction of its comprehensive drainage project to address flooding in the metro.
A proposed sea wall project in the city is also seen to dislocate several residents in high-risk areas.
“Nag-submit si Mayor (Jerry P. Treñas) more than 2,800 nga informal settlers ang maapektuhan sang nalain-lain nga creeks para i-transfer na naton para pagabuhaton man naton ang construction sang mga sea wall. So this time, I’m hoping nga tagaan man kita additional funds para sa housing projects naton sa syudad.” Baronda said.
Baronda emphasized that through housing projects, informal settlers would not feel left behind and won’t go back to their old homes, as the city is geared towards sustainability.
“Ang long term solution naton, gina-tinguhaan gid naton nga mapatindog ang more than 10,000 houses para sa mga informal settlers. May mga bantay creek man na kita, kag ang city mayor naton maga-tinguha gid nga once masuguran na ining mga proyekto sa creeks naton, hindi na sila magbalik,” Baronda said.
“We are exploring kag mangita kita pondo and additional funds para sa bike expressway, para ang tanan nga mga creeks hindi na pagbaliklan sang informal settlers, butangan ta pa gid dalan para sa bike lanes,” she added.
The lawmaker explained that they wanted all housing projects to have the necessary facilities such as parks and schools, as well as employment accessibility for the residents.
“Ginatinguhaan naton, kag ang porma sang mga housing project daw township program nga halin didto sa Uswag Residences asta sa Iloilo City People’s Residences daw isahon na siya, daw township program nga may eskwelahan, may ara sang mga health center,” Baronda said.
In October 2022, Baronda, together with National Housing Authority (NHA) officials and the city government led the groundbreaking ceremony of the Iloilo City People’s Residences at Brgy. Tabuc Suba, Jaro which is one of the housing projects intended for the informal settlers affected by the city government’s infrastructure projects.
The P300-million housing project with a total area of 1.9 hectares also features five low-rise buildings with 300 housing units, wherein each unit has a floor area of 24 square meters.
Meanwhile, Treñas earlier said that Iloilo City faces more than a 15,000-housing-unit backlog as they need around 2,700 housing units to relocate informal settlers on the banks of the Jaro and Batiano rivers, and in Brgy. San Pedro alone.
Treñas added that the city government is currently procuring additional eight hectares of land in Brgy Tacas, Jaro and Brgy Baluarte, Molo to be developed as other possible relocation sites.
COMPREHENSIVE DRAINAGE PLAN
Baronda earlier said that she was able to secure a P1-billion fund for the city’s flood mitigation project which will be coursed through the General Appropriations Act (GAA).
But more funds are needed as the entire project requires around P6.2 billion to finish.
Based on a 2017 feasibility study, the Iloilo City Comprehensive Drainage Plan – where the Jaro Floodway, Tigum River, Dungon Creek, and Seawall will be given focus to mitigate flooding – needed P6.2 billion fund, but the project has only been given around P500-million budget so far.
Baronda said they are expecting to start the seawall project by 2023 after asking for help from the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) and other lawmakers to facilitate an additional budget that might reach P2.5 to P3 billion.
“He (DPWH secretary Manuel Bonoan) assured me yesterday nga kung may ara kita nga hindi mapunduhan, sa 2023 pwede gid kita matagaan basta naumpisahan ang project through augmentation,” she added.
Baronda also stressed the 10 percent unutilized funds of the DPWH, as it could already be used to finish the P6 billion-drainage project in the city.
“10 percent is P18 plus billion, sabi ko sayang tapos na sana ang programa ko na drainage system kasi kailangan ko lang ng P6 billion. That is why he gave me extra funds because of that question nga pag-grill naton sa iya,” Baronda said.