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Urban poor demands security of land and housing tenure, challenges GMA to deliver promises of her past SONAs

27 July 2008, 6pm – On the eve of the State of the Nation Address (SONA) of Gloria M. Arroyo, a hundred residents of Tonsuya, Malabon gathered in front of MC Mall in Malabon to deliver their own SONA. The action, led by League of Urban Poor for Action (LUPA), was part of the week-long activities of the National Urban Poor Coalition (NUPCO) dubbed as “SONA ng MARALITA, HINDI SONA ng MASALITA: Sa community, HINDI sa Commonwealth.”

“More and more people are now living in extreme poverty. We have not felt the progress that Gloria M. Arroyo had always bragged about in her past state of the nation addresses. Tomorrow, she will report again of statistical progress including her so-called achievements in mitigating, if not fully alleviating poverty in the country,” said Jun Bagasala, leader of LUPA – a member of NUPCO.

Bagasala explained that in Tonsuya alone, 3,200 families who are living in the 5.8 hectares of informal settlements have long been struggling to have security of tenure in the lands they have been occupying for decades already. “For years, we have been fighting for this land to be expropriated by the local government unit for socialized housing. We do not want relocation in the periphery of Metro Manila where life is even more difficult because of absence of livelihood for the relocatees. We have also been demanding from both the local and national institutions financing for on-site housing development.”

Tonsuya is a private land owned by the Gozon family. The area was part of a reclamation project of the National Housing Authority and in 1967 a presidential proclamation was issued on socialized housing in the area. The proclamation was contested by the Gozons in court from 2000 to 2005, which decided in their favor. The Gozons are reportedly open to voluntary sale negotiations with the residents

Bagasala added that as long as the land is not expropriated for socialized housing, residents will continue to face the threats of demolition and eviction from their homes as the Gozons who are the “land claimants” pursue this to be able to build a commercial complex once the area is cleared.

Their problem on security of land/housing tenure is compounded by the crisis in rice and energy – oil and electricity. “We want this government to act now on our pleas and demands. Now is not the time for ‘talks.’ What we want is humane housing, decent jobs, safe and affordable water as well as affordable and ample supply of rice.”

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July 27, 2008 - Posted by | PILOT CAMPAIGN AREAS, PRESS RELEASES/STATEMENTS, Tonsuya | , , , , , , , ,

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