Breaking Grounds For a Happy Life
Words By Richi Gulle
THE HOUSING and resettlement program of the city government of Tagum started several years ago to stem the blighting presence of informal settlers who were already illegally forming their own communities in government and privately owned properties. These families, most often than not, would be severely affected when violence ensued from eviction from the lands they were illegally occupying. Not only that, but the local government also had to deal with several homeless families who settled along locations that were classified as danger areas like shorelines, riversides and creeks.
In order for the LGU to protect the over-all wellbeing of the city’s homeless families as well as underprivileged communities of informal settlers who were disinclined to vacate their illicitly- occupied spaces, while at the same time ensuring the rights of the owners to their real properties, the City of Tagum implemented its housing program that is geared towards improving the quality of life of those affected by the conduct of relocation activities.
The relocation sites of the city government typically and adequately provide these families with access to basic services or facilities that include, but are not limited to, power and electricity, potable water, sewerage facilities as well as access to primary roads and transportation facilities.
However, there are quite a few numbers of the informal family settlers who are unreceptive and reluctant of being relocated as they deem the relocation sites of the city to be considerably distant from their areas of economic activities. Thus, in order to answer this pressing concern, the city government has effected measures to guarantee that the relocated families will have access to various employment opportunities.
The city also coordinates with other national agencies such as the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) of the Department of Agriculture (DA) so that these families will be afforded with post relocation assistance such as the various livelihood projects that are geared towards increasing the purchasing power of the housing program beneficiaries while empowering them into becoming members of a self-reliant and sustainable community.
To date, the city of Tagum has catered a total number of 3,290 families who were already relocated to the city’s nine established resettlement areas that are spread over seven of its barangays. Of these families, 923 have already been awarded by the local government with ownership, or a semblance of it, to the lands they have already settled in.
On the other hand, there are 7,253 walk-in applicants coming from all 23 barangays of the city that have been inventoried and listed for future validation and qualification to the housing and resettlement program of the local government of Tagum.
With the City of Tagum enabling the informal family settlers to secure these parcels of land at an affordable cost, one that is based on the needs and financial capabilities of the beneficiaries, these resettled Tagumenyos who were once considered to be part of one sector that is marginalized, will now have their pride and dignity restored.
The LGU also provides assistance in the organization of 1,063 tagged and validated informal settlers who are currently occupying privately owned lands to negotiate with the landowners for the option to sell the property to the actual occupants, and aids the group in obtaining a financing scheme through the city’s community mortgage program to purchase the property should the negotiation with the landowners become successful.
Notably, the City Government of Tagum is poised to strengthen the capacities of its housing unit by the creation of a City Housing Division under the City Mayor’s Office. With this transformation, the remaining underprivileged and homeless Tagumenyos may experience the magnitude of the LGU’s seriousness in the implementation of its housing programs.