The cleared San Juan-Laiya Road Section in Batangas. Photo by NEDA Region IV-A

The Regional Project Monitoring Committee (RPMC) Calabarzon has finally resolved the issue on informal settlers’ along the San Juan-Laiya Road (under the DOT-DPWH Convergence Program) in Batangas through the conduct of the final problem-solving session (PSS) on September 20, 2018 at the DPWH Batangas 4th District Engineering Office, Marawoy, Lipa City, Batangas.

The informal settlers started to occupy the project’s road right-of-way (RROW) in Barangay Laiya-Aplaya, San Juan, Batangas in 2014 after they were removed from a private property in Sitio Balacbacan, Barangay Laiya-Aplaya in San Juan, Batangas. Based on DPWH Batangas District Engineering Office IV’s estimates, 88 structures were constructed on the RROW involving 50 informal settler families. These families did not transfer to the relocation site provided by the private lot owner and posed as danger to the travelling tourists and the informal settlers themselves. The road section as part of the 48-kilometer Lobo-Malabrigo-San Juan-Laiya Road Project has improved access to popular tourist beach destinations in San Juan, Batangas which created substantial tourism-related economic activities in the area. A total of 88 tourist establishments have benefitted from the road project. On September 10, 2018 all of the informal settlers have peacefully and voluntarily relocated to the relocation site provided by San Juan LGU.

In response to the issue, the Calabarzon RPMC conducted six PSS from October 20, 2017 to September 3, 2018 with DPWH, DILG, DBM, DepEd, PNP, AFP, PCUP, CHR, Batangas Province, San Juan LGU and RDC Private Sector Representatives to facilitate the relocation of the informal settlers. The LGU of San Juan provided relocation site and financial assistance to the relocatees. The DPWH, AFP-Engineering Brigade and the legislator representing the 4th District of Batangas provided complementary assistance to the relocated families.

The Calabarzon RPMC on September 20 also validated the clearance of the RROW and the transfer of the families to the relocation site. A post-relocation action plan has been adopted by the RPMC to ensure that there will be no more informal settlers along the road.

The relocation site in Sitio Site, Barangay Laiya-Aplaya, San Juan, Batangas. Photo by NEDA Region IV-A
Calabarzon RPMC Chairperson Luis Banua presiding over the final PSS to prepare an action plan to ensure that there will be no more informal settlers. Photo by NEDA Region IV-A

Ray Michael Kevin H. Abuso, NEDA Region IV-A | September 26, 2018