The Philippine Daily Inquirer, which prides itself with being “fearless” and “balanced,” has once again shown that it can be neither when it comes to reporting about the Duterte administration.
In a news report titled, “New rail projects in, informal settlers out”, the newspaper used data from 2008 to allege that the National Housing Authority (NHA) would have to remove “18,455 families from (Philippine National Railway) tracks in Bulacan and Pampanga provinces.”
The writer goes on to say that communities covered by the “new” projects included “41,000 families in the cities of Malabon, Caloocan and Valenzuela in Metro Manila; the towns of Meycauayan, Marilao, Bocaue, Balagtas and Guiguinto, and the City of Malolos in Bulacan; and the towns of Apalit, San Simon and San Luis, and the cities of San Fernando, Angeles and Mabalacat in Pampanga.”
But according to more recent data from the Department of Transportation (DOTr), the actual number of informal settler families that will be resettled for the PNR Clark Phase 1 (Tutuban-Malolos) is 414. This is based on the project’s post-detailed engineering Resettlement Action Plan. For the PNR Clark Phase 2 (Malolos-Clark), the estimate number of affected families is 224 based on the project’s Feasibility Study. The DOTr clarified that “this number for Phase 2 may still change during the project’s detailed engineering design.”
Furthermore , the DOTr has vowed that “in resettling project-affected informal settler families, DOTr will strictly observe President Duterte’s ‘no relocation, no demolition’ policy together with the HUDCC, NHA, SHFC, PCUP, and concerned LGUs.”
They add that, “since PNR Clark will be financed by Japan, the following resettlement principles under JICA’s Environmental and Social Safeguards will also be observed, involuntary resettlement should be avoided where feasible; displaced families should be compensated and assisted, so their economic and social future would be generally as favorable as it would have been in the absence of the project; and affected families should be fully informed and consulted on resettlement and compensation options.”
According to officials of the DOTr, they have already reached out the Inquirer to clarify the use of the outdated data but no action has been taken to correct the erroneous figures given.