After heavy rains submerged Metro Manila and other parts of Luzon, Vice President Jejomar C. Binay has recommended the strict implementation of laws and policies on land use, among them the immediate implementation of a national government  plan to relocate informal settler families (ISFs) from danger zones.

                  The Vice President also urged the strict enforcement of rules that require developers to show clearances from the Mines and Geo-Hazards Bureau before starting housing projects near waterways.

                  "The massive floods in Metro Manila and nearby provinces is nature's way of telling us that we need to consistenly push for urban development policies that are sustainable and relevant in the midst of climate change," he said.

                  "It also challenges those of us in government, both at the national and local level, to be pro-active and to ensure that laws and directives on land use are strictly enforced. Our country and our people cannot be left totally at the mercy of the elements when we know that steps can be taken to mitigate the impact of floods and other natural calamities on communities," he added.

                  The Vice President, who is also  chair of the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC), noted that Metro Manila has 580,000 informal settler families, of which 104,000 are living along rivers and waterways considered as danger zones.

                  Binay said government and the private sector must now move together to fast-track the construction of medium-rise buildings and new town settlements for informal settlers in danger zones.

                  Binay also instructed housing financing agencies to require developers to present geo hazard clearances from the Mines and Geo-Sciences Bureau before they could build their projects.

                  “The clearances are now required especially for housing projects that are near waterways. It will also ensure climate change adaptability in planning for sustainable communities to mitigate disasters,” Binay said.

                  Binay said the housing sector has already pushed for initiatives to include climate change response actions in national and local government land use policies.

                  The housing czar cited the Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board’s Zero Backlog Program, which aims to complete updating the Comprehensive Land Use Plans (CLUP) of all local government units by 2013.

                  “The CLUPs of the various LGUs will incorporate climate change mitigation and disaster risk reduction measures as well as identify safe residential areas,” Binay said.

                  Meanwhile, Binay emphasized the need for agencies to be united and vigilant in implementing urban development plans. 

                  “Our urban planners, builders, developers, funders and the communities must continue to act together in responding to the challenges posed by the changes in our climate,” he said.

                  “The national government, the local government, civil society and the people themselves should cooperate more closely to fast-track the provision of medium-rise buildings and other alternative housing for our people living in danger areas, including the development of new towns as expansion residential areas, complete with basic facilities and livelihood opportunities,” he added.

                  The Vice President also called on LGUs to show political will to prevent structures in non-buildable areas and danger zones.

                  “Bayanihan, or uniting and working together to further sustainable urban development, is key in dealing with the situation,” he said.