THE number of homeless Filipinos, many of them squatters and jobless people across the country, continues to worry concerned government agencies and offices.
Without doubt, there’s a need to respond to the increasing backlog of housing units not only in urban areas, like Metropolitan Manila (MM), but throughout the nation.
Many of the country’s poorest of the poor, including the low-income workers in the government and private sector, live in overcrowded and dirty slum districts.
The slums are inhabited by people eking out a living as street vendors, barkers, messengers, janitors, jeepney and bus drivers/conductors, and garbage collectors.
To these unfortunate members of society, owning a modest home in a subdivision remains a dream considering the skyrocketing prices of land and construction materials.
“Hanggang sa ngayon ay marami pang mahihirap ang nakatira sa mga barung-barong na nasa gilid ng mga ilog at ibang daluyan ng tubig,” lamented a sampaguita vendor.
Other informal settlers, particularly those from the Visayas and Mindanao, now want to return to their hometowns under the “balik-probinsiya” program of the govenment.
“Gusto na nilang bumalik sa probinsiya dahil alam nilang determinado ang gobyerno ni Pangulong Bongbobg Marcos na i-develop ang kanayunan,” according to an informal settler.
In fact, countryside development is the key to decongesting Metropolitan Manila and other urban centers across this poverty-stricken but natural rich Asian country.
The private sector should construct more low-cost housing units in the provinces to encourage Manilans to avail themselves of the “balik-probinsiya” program.
And we urge concerned government authorities to do something more effective regarding homelessness, unemployment, underemployment, hunger and poverty.