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PIA Press Release

Residents affected by rail linkage project assured of amenities in relocation areas

Quezon City (4 April) -- Relocation areas for families affected by the North and South Rail Linkage Project are adequately-equipped to provide basic amenities such as water, electricity, malls, schools and job opportunities.

Vice President and Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC) Chairman Noli de Castro gave this assurance to President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo today when the latter visited Barangay 630, Zone 63, District 6 in Manila to check on the status of relocation procedures for 1,632 informal settler families (ISF) affected by the project.

The North and South Rail Linkage Project hopes to connect the northern and southern railways into a seamless and modern system envisioned by the President as a national railway system under an integrated Philippine National Rail Authority (PNRA).

Some 50 residents representing 1,500 households came out and met the President who motored from Malacaņang.

Joining the President and De Castro were Barangay Chairman Doroteo Mabanan and several members of the Sannguniang Barangay.

During the interaction, the residents aired their concern over the availability of potable water, schools and sources of livelihood and jobs at the relocation areas.

The affected residents have a choice of either relocating to: Cabuyao, Laguna; Trece Martires City in Cavite; Bocaue, Bulacan or to be brought back to their respective provinces under the Balik-Probinsiya program of the government.

De Castro said the affected residents had nothing to be worried about as the relocation centers are not like the relocation areas of two decades ago that were characterized by tall cogon grass and really isolated from the rest of Metro Manila.

An additional 544 informal settler families (ISFs) are scheduled for relocation between April 2 and April 25, 2007 as follows: 52 - Trece Martires City; 39 - Cabuyao, Laguna; and 453 - Bocaue, Bulacan.

Teresa Abong, one of the residents affected by the railway project expressed relief upon being informed of the amenities available to them.

"Salamat at kahit papaano, magkakaroon kami ng kabuhayan doon," she said.

The President also allayed the fears of residents who would remain at the unaffected portion of the barangay, assuring them of the availability of basic foodstuffs through a Barangay Food Terminal (BFT) which would be set up in their area.

The BFT is similar to a Tindahan Natin convenience store, another government project which provides affordable basic commodities to the people on a larger scale.

The BFT will sell food staples such as fruits, vegetables, meat products, aside from the basic rice, noodles and coffee, at lower than store prices.

During the event, the President also turned over to Mabanan 120 Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) scholarship vouchers which qualified residents could avail of.

The vouchers consist of 50 for welding technology, 50 for call center agents training and 20 for butchering. (PIA) [top]

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