There are more than 11.8 million people living in Manila and as many as 20% could be squatters who build their rickety huts on waterways, under bridges and idle lots.
Of 105,000 squatter families that are estimated to be living on the waterways, 20,000 families representing 100,000 people who are currently housed in shanties occupying 6 major waterways in Manila will be the first to move by June, said DILG Usec Francisco Fernandez, Informal Settlers Office Chief.
The plan is to clear six major waterways in the sprawling capital before typhoon season comes in June, while putting in place measures to save the squatters from being washed away by floods, said Fernandez.
This is a flood control measure to prevent Manila and its environs from being engulfed in flood waters during rainy days..
Experts have long warned that flooding in Manila has been worsened by the squatter communities who build precarious shanties on the banks of waterways, preventing water from flowing freely and blocking drains with rubbish.
There will be no forced evacuations and will be taken only as a last resort, said Fernandez,
He said the government has already contacted those affected so they could be relocated to areas near their old homes or near Manila.
In previous moves squatters relocated outside Manila swiftly returned to their old homes because of their failure to find jobs at the relocation site.
10 billion pesos ($246 million) has already been allotted by the government for the project this year and is preparing "medium-rise buildings" as new homes for the squatters, Francisco told AFP.
Clogging of waterways by squatters is one cause of frequent flooding and deaths in Manila and outlying cities caused by storms like Typhoon Ketsana in 2009, according to urban planners.
Recently squatter communities have violently resisted relocation efforts but Francisco said those on the waterways realised they had to move.
"They are there in the waterways not because they want to be, but because they have no other choice," he said.