MANILA - The Aquino administration must hold barangay officials liable for the proliferation of informal settlers in Metro Manila, particularly in danger zones and waterways, Sen. JV Ejercito said.
Ejercito, chair of the Senate committee on urban planning, housing and resettlement, accused some barangay officials of allowing people to settle in many places illegally for political reasons.
"I think the administration should hold the barangay officials liable because they know what is happening in their own barangays. Hindi naman puwedeng masisi 'yan sa mga local government officials," he told reporters on Wednesday.
"Minsan, 'yan ang pinagkukunan ng boto ng barangay officials."
Ejercito, who was mayor of San Juan City, said cases must be filed against barangay officials found to be encouraging squatting "if the administration is really dead serious solving this problem."
Without holding officials liable, Ejercito warned that the problem will just turn into a cycle of informal settlers relocating and returning.
Ejercito said San Juan will be embarking on an ambitious project to make housing its centerpiece program. His mom, Guia Gomez, is the current mayor of the city.
The city plans to relocate some 2,500 families to medium-rise buildings within the city, where the people will have better access to jobs and livelihood.
Ejercito believes this can be a model for other local government units.
Although from the opposition, Ejercito lauded the Aquino administration's efforts and political will to relocate informal settlers.
"Hindi bale nang may magalit kaysa nama may mamatay kung saka-sakaling magkaroon na naman ng kalamidad," he said.