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Razed Valenzuela slum to become subdivision

A day after the fire broke out in the crowded community along Lingahan Street, Barangay Malanday, City Mayor REX Gatchalian lays out the city government's plan for the homeless families. The community, which had narrow roads that made it difficult for fire trucks to pass through, will be renovated into a decent subdivision.

Photo by: Rodrigo de Guzman
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Plans are underway to improve into a decent subdivision the depressed community in Valenzuela City where a fire broke out last week.

In a meeting with the homeless families at the Malanday National High School, December 11, City Mayor REX Gatchalian said the city government is renovating the 3.3 hectare crowded community along Lingahan Street, Barangay Malanday to become a well laid-out subdivision.

The subdivision will have a 6-meter wide setback from the main road, and inner roads 3 to 4 meters wide each, Mayor REX said.

The plan to widen the roads had been particularly prompted by the difficulty the firefighters met in making their way through the community during the fire. The fire began at 11:30 p.m., December 10, and was put out at 5:30 a.m., December 11. 

A total of 491 families took shelter at the Malanday Covered Court, Malanday 3S Center building, and the A. Deato Elementary School, reports from the City Social Welfare and Development Office show. One died, a 24-year-old man with disabilities who fell into a creek as residents fled for the evacuation camps.

Mayor REX said: “Kahapon, sa gusto nating aminin o hindi, suwerte lang ho tayo. Puwedeng naging malagim na gabi ‘yong kagabi.  Suwerte lang ho tayo. Noong pumasok ako sa loob, nakita ko na isang bumbero lang – ‘yong malalaki hindi na nakapasok, [ang malalabasan na lang] ay isang pasilyo na lang. So naimagine ninyo, paano kung mas malaki iyong sunog, paano ang nangyari sa atin. Maaring mas marami ang namatay (Admit it or not, we were just lucky yesterday. Last night could have been worse. When I entered the community, I saw that only one fire truck made it through, the other bigger trucks had to stay in the main road. There was but one alley for the firefighters to pass through. Imagine what could have happened if it were a bigger fire. Far more people could have died).”

The local chief executive also said the city government will provide cash to the displaced members of the Tahanang Walang Tuntungan ng Malanday, Inc., the local homeowner’s association. 

Renters, or those who rented instead of owned houses before the fire, will also be assisted by the city government find new places and be given cash equivalent to three months of rent.

Since 1991, the 512-member homeowners’ association has been paying for the land under the Socialized Housing Finance Corporation’s Community Mortgage Program. 

Many homeowners have been free to build extensions of their houses even beyond their designated lots, encroaching into the roads, Mayor REX said. Years of unchecked house construction and burgeoning population have made the community into a crowded section.

The mayor is expecting the renovation would not only allow unhampered movement of people during disasters but cultivate a sense of dignity among the residents.

“Mayroon tayong pagkakataon na itama ang pagkakamali. Mayroon tayong pagkakataon na ibalik ‘yong pamumuhay na may dignidad. Dati-rati pag sinasabi ninyong Lingahan, ayaw pa kayong ihatid ng pedicab or tricycle. Kaya ngayon, pag sinasabi ninyong taga-Lingahan ako, dapat taas-noo ninyong hinaharap ang mga tao (We have now an opportunity to correct mistakes. We have now an opportunity to restore that dignified way of living. Before, whenever you asked pedicab or tricycle drivers to take you to Lingahan, they would refuse. Now, when you tell people you are from Lingahan, you should do it with heads held high),” said Mayor REX. 

2015-12-16 | By: Rafael Carpio Cañete

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