Bishop Dennis Villarojo of Malolos greets Catholics after his installation on Aug. 21, 2019. (Photo: Roy Lagarde)
After receiving cash assistance to build their own houses inland or start anew in their home provinces, former coastal settlers of what will be the site of the Philippines’ largest and most modern international airport have received another windfall, thanks in large part to Bishop Dennis Villarojo of Malolos.
San Miguel Corporation (SMC) president and chief operating officer Ramon S. Ang praised Bishop Villarojo not just for ensuring the concerns of residents of Taliptip reached the company but also for distributing to them the total cash value of abandoned chapels in the area that SMC also paid for.
“Today, as our country battles the Covid-19 global pandemic, acts of generosity towards our fellow Filipinos are what we need. Bishop Villarojo exemplifies this kind of selflessness. We are proud to have helped the people of Taliptip through the efforts of Bishop Villarojo,” Ang said.
Residents — many of whom were former caretakers and workers at privately owned fish ponds that had gone out of business or were sold off when profits ran dry because of tidal floods — have voluntarily moved out of the coastal area.
This development brings SMC’s project to build Manila International Airport in Bulacan province — touted as the biggest investment in the country at 734 billion pesos (US$15 billion) — one step closer to becoming a reality.
According to Ang, the prelate pushed for the distribution of cash to the people for the appraised values of their homes and of abandoned chapels in the area.
On the direction of Bishop Villarojo, SMC appraised the values of chapels at Sitio Pariyahan, Sitio Dapdap, Sitio Bunutan and Sitio Capol and distributed to residents the cash value of their respective chapels.
A total of 2,253,000 pesos was given to 242 residents on top of additional cash assistance given by SMC as requested by Bishop Villarojo.
These amounts are separate from payments made by SMC to both qualified and non-qualified claimants for their homes.
“We thank the good bishop for helping the residents and for suggesting to us steps on how we can address their concerns. Because of him, we were able to provide what the residents really needed, and we assured him that we would care for everyone,” Ang said.
Meanwhile, as part of its efforts to help residents start life anew, San Miguel provided owners of non-concrete houses or shanties with 250,000 pesos each, while owners of concrete houses were given the appraised value of their homes multiplied by two, plus 100,000 pesos.
A total of 277 owners of concrete and shanty houses qualified for financial assistance. Meanwhile, cash assistance was also given to 92 others who were disqualified, bringing to 369 the total beneficiaries.
According to Ang, many of the former settlers decided to move inland or go back to their respective provinces.
For those who decided to live nearby, SMC is extending more assistance in the form of skills training and job opportunities at the airport project.
“Our help does not stop at providing them cash to start anew in life. We will help equip beneficiaries with skills and provide them opportunities that will allow them to change their lives for the better,” Ang said.
The new airport will feature four parallel runways with a provision for two more, a world-class terminal and a seamless transport system.
The airport will accommodate up to 100 million passengers yearly, generate over a million direct and indirect jobs, give rise to many small industries in Bulacan, and significantly boost tourism, leading to more jobs across all industries.