THE DAVAO City government signed agreements with two of the country’s major real estate firms along with the Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board (HLURB) last Oct. 26 for the development of a 20-hectare (ha) property in Barangay Lasang for socialized housing. The project, under the Davao Balai Program, is intended for the relocation of the city’s informal settlers as well as housing for local government employees. SM Development Corp. (SMDC) will invest P322 million to cover about 15 ha of the project, while subsidiaries of Vista Land & Lifescapes, Inc. will pour in P130 million for the remaining five ha. Both companies will handle land development, including the construction of roads, drainage system, and open space facilities. “This demonstrates how our business community is a strong partner of our local government in its aspiration in providing decent homes for the Davaoeños. I am optimistic that this endeavor will not only address shelter problems but other equally pressing societal matters in this city,” Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio said during the signing ceremony with Vistaland. HLURB Chief Executive Officer Lloyd Christopher A. Lao said construction work will immediately start this week with clearing and backfilling operations on the land that was donated by Alsons Development & Investment, Corp. 10 years ago. “This will be turned over to the city government and it is the city now that will be negotiating with the housing authority, and the national housing authority will provide the houses for informal settlers,” he said. — Maya M. Padillo