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.”
July 27, 2008 Posted by nupco | PILOT CAMPAIGN AREAS, PRESS RELEASES/STATEMENTS, Tonsuya | expropriation proceedings, Gozon property, League of Urban Poor for Action, LUPA, Malabon, NUPCO, socialized housing, State of the Nation Address, Tonsuya | Leave a comment
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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