The National Urban Poor Coalition (NUPCO) is a confederation of various urban poor organizations based in Metro Manila, but with membership base also in other parts of Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao. Seventy percent of its leadership are women and it has a total membership base of 40,000 families in Metro Manila.
Through the efforts of the different socio-political groups in Laban ng Masa (Struggle of the Masses) and in partnership with the Institute for Popular Democracy (IPD), NUPCO has been working to achieve consensus on its new strategy of mobilizing the powers of local governments to secure urban poor rights that could not be secured from national agencies, like the National Housing Authority.
Currently, it has a joint program with IPD “Securing a Dignified Place in the City for the Urban Poor.” The key objective of the program is to support urban poor organizations as they initiate a major shift of strategy by focusing their mobilization and lobbying strategies towards pressure on their local governments, while also exerting pressure on the national government to adopt compatible rules supportive of local initiatives. They would like their local governments to use their powers and resources to help create secure in-city urban spaces that will be co-managed, co-financed and co-developed by urban poor communities and into which needed municipal services could then flow.
Consensus building activities, have been undertaken leading to NUPCO’s unity on the following propositions:
i)The struggle for a secure and dignified place in the cities cannot be won only through existing national venues and has to be brought before local governments, whose powers under the Local Governance Code can be harnessed;
ii)Urban poor communities also need to take pro-active initiatives, not just the dramatic defensive actions that have done little to stop evictions of the urban poor in resettlement areas far from where they have their livelihoods;
iii)The urban poor have to propose alternatives and well elaborated frames for policy and action that will be presented to local governments and local politicians;
iv)The urban poor need to unite on their advocacy platform at the level of the cities and barangays – instead of being divided by local partisan loyalties – so that their numerical strength can be realized in the form of pressure on local politicians who need to secure votes every three years.
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