MANILA, Philippines – Acting Makati City Mayor Romulo “Kid” Peña Jr will be visiting on Thursday, August 13, the city government's housing site in Laguna that became controversial after a critic of Vice President Jejomar Binay linked it to corruption.
Peña is set to hold a dialogue with residents of Makati Homeville in Barangay Dayap, Calauan, Laguna. He plans to discuss with the residents how the city government can continue helping them.
Representatives from various departments of the Makati city hall will also come to conduct a medical-dental mission as well as provide services like free haircuts to the residents.
Makati Homeville houses families who were relocated from various waterways and illegal settlements in Makati City.
The spotlight centered on the Calauan relocation site early this year, when lawyer Renato Bondal alleged the overpricing of two Makati housing projects when Vice President Binay was still mayor of the city.
Bondal, a political rival of Binay, testified before the Senate blue ribbon committee on April 16 that Makati Homeville was allegedly overpriced by P500 million ($11.26 million). He also alleged the overpricing of the Makati Friendship Suites in Barangay Cembo, Makati by P195 million ($4.39 million).
Citing a Rappler article, Bondal also said that there was sex-for-food prostitution in Calauan and living conditions were so dire that infants die of malnutrition. (READ: Failed relocation in 'Bayan ni Juan')
However, Bondal did not present any documents to prove his allegations.
Two Makati Homeville residents – Edison Rivera and Domingo Arcilla – said during the Senate investigation of the corruption allegations against the Binays that residents do not have access to water, food, electricity, and other basic services. (READ: Makati Home Ville: Where lies the truth?)
Rappler later found out that the two were discredited members of the community and were not speaking on behalf of most residents, who agreed that their lives actually improved upon moving to Makati Homeville. (READ: VP Binay did not abandon Makati Homeville residents – spokesman)
Still, the relocation site is plagued by several problems.
People started moving to Makati Homeville in 2009, but it took 4 years until the housing units were completed. Those who first moved to the area had to make do with makeshift houses.
While many of the residents did not have electricity and easy access to clean water as of April this year, the process to put up electric meters and piping systems for the housing units were already underway.
Then Makati Social Welfare Department officer-in-charge Ryan Barcelo also said last April that the city government continues to provide livelihood programs for Makati Homeville residents, including cash-for-work activities, livelihood skills training, and the creation of a cooperative. – Rappler.com