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Urban Poor Troop to Malacanang, Demand Stop in Demolitions

PGMA, Bayani Fernando, not heroes to urban poor

“Makataong pamumuhay, hindi demolisyon!”

Aug 1 K-M NHDManila, Philippines.  URBAN poor leaders trooped to Mendiola today, National Heroes’ Day, denouncing the government’s plan to demolish informal settlements of 25,000 men, women, and children.

“Today is National Heroes’ Day. Metro Manila Development Authority’s (MMDA) chairman is named Bayani, but his actions are not of a hero. In fact he betrays the ideals and principles that our heroes fought for – to champion the interest of the masses. Implementing the plan to demolish our houses is a concrete manifestation of his continuing insensibility to the plight of the poor, thus making him a villain rather than a hero to the urban poor,” said Von Mesina of Kilos Maralita, a coalition of urban poor organizations.

MMDA is the agency that would spearhead the demolitions of urban poor houses affected by government priority infrastructure projects and those living along the so-called “danger zones,” on the recommendation of the Metro Manila Inter-Agency Committee (MMIAC). Created by Executive Order 803, MMIAC is the office in charge of decongesting the metropolis and providing housing for affected families.

“Real heroes like Jose Rizal, Andres Bonifacio, Tandang Sora, Apolinario Mabini, and Ninoy Aquino sacrificed for the people, but Bayani Fernando and Gloria M. Arroyo are sacrificing the people especially the poor in exchange for beautification and pro-rich development of the Metropolis,” Mesina said.

The protesters wearing masks of the national heroes tore a symbolic copy of EO 803 as a re-enactment of “Cry of Pugadlawin” when Katipuneros tore their cedulas in protest of Spanish colonial and repressive rule.

The protesters cried “justice for the poor.” They said that if these heroes were alive today, they would also protest against the government’s anti-poor policies.

Kilos Maralita, Task Force Anti-Eviction, and other urban poor groups who joined the rally called on Gloria Arroyo, Bayani Fernando, and other government officials involved to immediately drop the plan to demolish the homes of more than 5,000 urban poor families. They urge the government to, in stead proclaim public domains and expropriate private lands presently occupied by informal settlers.

Aug1 K-MThe group also decried the appointment of MMDA as the lead agency of MMIAC and Fernando as chief of the agency that governs housing projects for the poor in Metro Manila. They consider Fernando’s new assignment “as adding insult to the injury already experienced by the poor.”

“MMDA’s orientation is to demolish houses, not to build. Appointing Bayani Fernando as head of MMIAC is like appointing General Jovito Palparan as chairman of the Commission on Human Rights. It places the urban poor in a more precarious situation,” said Noel Cano of Ugnayan ng Mamamayan Laban sa Kahirapan (UMALAB-KA), a member organization of Kilos Maralita.

Cano is a resident of Damayang Lagi in Quezon City, one of the communities included in MMIAC ‘s list of communities that are subject to demolition. The list was released earlier by Fernando.

“We are not against development. But we are against exclusive development where the urban poor are excluded. Throwing us out of the city is not just and humane especially in this time of crisis and against every persons right to live a life with dignity. We, the urban poor, need opportunities for employment and livelihood programs, access to essential, and basic services like clean water and electricity, health care, security of shelter in the city, and all other requirements to live a humane life,” said Jose Morales of Task Force Anti-Eviction.

“Demolition of our houses is definitely not the answer to our problems. We need Heroes to solve our problems not villains like Bayani Fernando and GMA,” said Morales, who represents urban poor communities in Dona Imelda, Quezon City which was threatened of demolition by MMDA last week.##

September 1, 2009 Posted by | PRESS RELEASES/STATEMENTS | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Urban Poor Leaders Storm Malacanang, Demand P50 Billion for Mass Housing

Urban Poor Leaders from Kilos-Maralita surprised Malacanang when they staged a lightning rally today, demanding 50 billion pesos for humane and affordable mass housing as part of the 330 billion peso stimulus plan. The group stormed Gate 7 of Malacańang carrying banners calling on the government to allocate funds for mass housing as Social Protection for the country’s poor from the economic crisis .

Kilos Maralita, a broad urban poor coalition with almost 300 members organizations nationwide also called for the amendment of the Urban Development and Housing Act of 1992 (RA 7279). The Housing Act is commemorating its 17 years of existence.

“UDHA failed to protect the poor. Our proposal is to amend UDHA or scrap it and enact Magna Carta for the Poor. Also, prioritizing housing for the poor in this time of crisis by allocating 50 billion pesos to humane and affordable mass housing would show true commitment to the welfare of the poor,” said Nestor Yaranon, a Coordinating Council member of Kilos-Maralita.” Housing contributes 16x multiplier effect in the economy compared to road construction which has only around 2.2x. A 50 billion peso allocation for socialized housing will amount to 800 billion peso contribution to economic activity of the country. Thus, constructing houses will stimulate our economy more than constructing roads,” Yaranon added.

According to official data there is currently a housing need of 3,756,072. Urban poor population nationwide is estimated at 20 million people.

The Palace security was caught off-guard prompting the police to close the entry-way going to Gate 7 and barricading Mendiola. Kilos Maralita leaders were prevented from entering the Gate 7 and were pushed out of Mendiola. The group continued their rally at the foot of the Don Chino Roces bridge.

Noel Cano, another coordinating council member of the urban poor coalition, declared “Now is the best time for GMA to listen to the people’s need for social protection. She should heed to the people’s demand instead of pushing us away like the way they pushed us today, and to start with there should be a moratorium on demolition. If houses will not be built for us, don’t destroy what we have.”

Cano added, “the absence of housing measures in the government’s stimulus plan is a manifestation of the regime’s insensitivity to the plight of the poor”.

Kilos Maralita unveiled its proposed social protection package last week in a forum with Governor Joey Salceda of Albay concurrently GMA’s economic adviser. The package is an alteration of the government’s allocation of 330 billion pesos intended for infrastructure, temporary jobs, and cash handouts. It includes city housing program, labor based equipment support scheme to provide employment to the poor and reforms on conditional cash transfer program among others.

Press Release
March 28, 2009

March 29, 2009 Posted by | Activities with other networks, PRESS RELEASES/STATEMENTS | Leave a comment

As We See It

 

This is in response to the opinion of Mr. Neal Cruz entitled “QC councilors are squatter coddlers” published in Philippine Daily Inquirer on February 2, 2009 in his column “As I See It”. We in the National Urban Poor Coalition (NUPCO) do agree in his assertions that tax payers’ contribution to the society should be spent in meaningful projects and programs and should not be used in “aid of political considerations” of the politicians. That useless tarpaulins, concrete semi-arches, basketball courts and pool hall, and unnecessary waiting sheds which are made intentionally to provide political mileage to politicians are waste of tax payers’ money and should have negative effect to the voting public in the elections.

 

But, in the same article, we regret that Mr. Cruz made categorical statements prejudicial to one of the most marginalized sectors in our society, the urban poor/informal settlers or “squatters” as Mr. Cruz addressed the sector. While it is correct to criticize the opportunist’s exploitation of the informal settlers during elections, it is improper and inhuman to denounce a proposed law or ordinance in this case which would give much needed relief to the sector especially in this era of crisis which Councilor Bernadette Herrera-Dy’s proposed ordinance declaring moratorium on the eviction of “squatters” is bound to provide. While it is correct to protect the rights of property owners, it is heartless and insensitive to the underprivileged to even insinuate that the urban poor has occupied lands out of opportunism thus no help nor assistance should be provided to the informal settlers rather than being forced to settle informally due to economic hardship. While it is correct that the tax payers should be protected, it is wrong to say that the urban poor are non-tax paying and should not be given protection because no one can escape the Value Added Tax burden. Thus, the informal settlers are also tax payers and should also be protected. Also, all should be given equal protection, tax payers and non-tax payers alike.  

 

This is not to condemn Mr. Cruz nor praise Councilor Herrera-Dy but merely rendering our views on the matter and supporting the subject proposed ordinance. We hope that opinion makers including media practitioners support the urban poor in its war against poverty, its struggle for a place in the city and adequate social protection, and its quest for humane living and dignified housing.

 

  vcm

February 5, 2009 Posted by | 1, PRESS RELEASES/STATEMENTS | , , , , , | Leave a comment

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 | PILOT CAMPAIGN AREAS, PRESS RELEASES/STATEMENTS, Tonsuya | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Urban poor groups hold noise barrage, demand jobs, services, and food

Caloocan urban poor: decent jobs, essential services, and food!
Not GMA’s empty promises on her SONA

JULY 26, 2008 – About a hundred informal settlers in Camarin, Caloocan City went out to the streets at 6pm to hold their own state of the nation address (SONA) as part of the week-long protest activities conducted by the National Urban Poor Coalition (NUPCO) dubbed as the “SONA ng Maralita, hindi SONA ng MASALITA: Sa community, hindi sa Commonwealth.”

The urban poor in Camarin who are also mostly resettled there by the government demanded decent jobs, basic services, and food for them. They claimed that they are already tired of hearing the state of the nation address of Gloria M. Arroyo which is empty. “We have never felt the progress that GMA claims each time she delivers her SONA.”

“We were relocated here more than ten years ago, but even with security of tenure in our lands and homes we still find it difficult to live here because of the absence of decent jobs as well as lack of access to essential services especially water and health,” said Nestor Yranon, chairperson of Lumaban Ka – member organization of NUPCO.
“Worse, the high prices of food particularly rice, as well as oil and electricity push as all the more to our limits. We wanted to have jobs, but there is none. How can we survive with the rising costs of commodities and services with just P100 a day that we earn from vending and driving of pedicabs and tricycles?,” added Yranon.

Yranon explained that their situation is a reflection of a flawed poverty alleviation including housing program of the government. He said that poor people want and need a place in the city, but the essential goods and services as well as decent jobs have to be provided also by the government.

NUPCO asserts that relocation is not enough. The government must make sure that it is truly a RE-SETTLEMENT area for the poor. By “resettlement” it means, the place is livable. “Humane housing and dignified living for the poor must be provided, thus the socio-economic factors have also to be taken into account in any re-settlement program of the government for the poor.”

Some members of Umalab ka-Alab Katipunan, a member of NUPCO, tricycle drivers under Pagkakaisa ng mga Manggagawa sa Transportasyon (PMT), and Akbayan were among those who led the community action.

July 26, 2008 Posted by | PRESS RELEASES/STATEMENTS | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Urban poor coalition holds its 2nd day of community protest action, demands on-site development in Damayang Lagi

PRESS RELEASE
July 25, 2008

The destitute situation of the urban poor especially here in Metro Manila where millions are hungry, without decent jobs, and still live in slums despite the proclamations by Gloria M. Arroyo since 2001 that the lands where they live would be theirs is the primary reason why the urban poor groups and their communities affiliated with the National Urban Poor Coalition (NUPCO) would rather conduct the SONA in their communities rather than hear the President’s SONA in Commonwealth Avenue .

On the second day of the week-long community protest action that kicked off yesterday at the Parola Compound in Manila, NUPCO members and settlers in Damayang Lagi in Quezon City reiterated the call for security of tenure in the lands and houses they have been occupying for decades already.

Some 1,200 families/structure owners in a 21,000 square-meter lot called Damayang Lagi, along E. Rodriguez Avenue in Quezon City, are currently facing the threats of demolition of and eviction from their homes because of the government’s plan for a mixed use of the land for housing and commercial site.

“If this mixed use plan of the Department of Finance and the Quezon City government pushes through, approximately 4,800 of us who are all living here will be dislocated. Some of these people have been here since 1960’s and 1970’s,” said Noel Cano, leader of NUPCO member organization Umalab Ka that is actively campaigning for humane housing for the poor and on-site development that integrates the poor in the area.

The residents through the people’s organizations and the Barangay council in the said area recently formed Task Force On-Site (TF-ONSITE) as they intensify their opposition to the mixed use plan.

TF-ONSITE asserts the right of the poor to remain in the land where they have raised their families and have built a community. It calls on both the local and national governments to implement instead an on-site development plan that does not exclude the poor living in said land.

“We will challenge the mixed use plan even if we have to reach the judicial courts as there seems an irregularity here in the land classification in Damayang Lagi. From 1970’s until 2001, Damayang Lagi had always been classified as a residential land. How can it be easily classified as a commercial land under zoning ordinance or land use plan of Quezon City in 2001?” said TF-ONSITE chairperson Jess Alco.

Church and human rights groups joined the urban poor dwellers as they shouted “ON SITE DEVELOPMENT, NOT DEMOLITION,” while holding the lit candles at 6:30 in the evening along E.Rodriguez Ave. in Quezon City.

NUPCO believes that “the government’s housing program is flawed in a major way. Poor people want and need a place in the city, not at the foothills of resettlement sites like Montalban.” The coalition added that even the proclamations declaring the lands for socialized housing appear to be fake. In Parola alone, despite the two proclamations issued by GMA in 2001 and 2004, the security of land and housing tenure of the residents there remain unrealized. Also in one part in Taguig, GMA’s proclamation in 2004 turned out to be false, that was why the people there were reportedly demolished last month.

The groups asserted that GMA only used these proclamations to pacify residents who are known to distrust and dislike her.

July 25, 2008 Posted by | Damayang Lagi, PILOT CAMPAIGN AREAS, PRESS RELEASES/STATEMENTS | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

NUPCO press release: SONA ng MARALITA, HINDI SONA ng MASALITA!

SONA NG MARALITA, HINDI SONA NG MASALITA:
Sa community, HINDI sa Commonwealth!

“The true state of the nation can be seen in the urban poor communities where people live in extreme poverty, without food and decent shelters and where social services cannot be felt” – this was how the coalition of urban poor organizations in the country described the present national situation.

The National Urban Poor Coalition (NUPCO) stressed that the destitute situation of the people in many communities in the country especially in urban centers like Metro Manila is the primary reason why the urban poor groups would rather conduct its SONA in their communities rather than hear the President’s SONA in Commonwealth Avenue.

“In this country, we have no common wealth as almost all goods and services have been privatized leaving the poor with nothing for themselves, not even a humane shelter,” said the urban poor coalition.

The coalition shared the Institute for Popular Democracy’s findings that 2006 data of Urban Asset Reform Program under the Office of the President show that almost 700,000 families remain in the slums and as informal settlers. When GMA took over the presidency in 2001, the slum dwellers especially those in Parola and Baseco, were among the first communities she visited and promised with land for socialized housing. Further, according to the group, in 2004, before the presidential elections, GMA visited these places again and made the same promises, and proclaimed again the lands for the urban poor. “PURO SALITA.”

“However, on July 28, as GMA will report in her SONA how many houses have been built for the poor among other so-called “accomplishments” her administration has, millions of Filipinos are still living under inhumane condition, without decent houses,” said NUPCO. Among them are those promised with land and houses by GMA in 2001 and those who were relocated but who later returned to informal settlements in Metro Manila because “there is nothing there.” NUPCO believes that “the government’s program is flawed in a major way, poor people want and need a place in the city, not at the foothills of Montalban.

“Humane housing, decent jobs, basic services like education, health, water and electricity, and affordable and ample supply of rice are what the Filipinos especially the urban poor need today more than ever. We have been asking for these for so long from the government,” NUPCO reiterated.

NUPCO will hold series of community protest actions beginning today, July 24, until the day of the state of the nation address on July 28 to highlight their demands addressed to GMA.

At 6pm of July 24, the series of community actions will kick off at Parola Compound where a hundred slum dwellers in Parola are expected to gather in front of Gate 20 where they will hold a candlelighting to symbolize the glaring truth of poverty in contrast with what they are expecting to be a SONA full of promises and empty rhetoric of progress. Noise barrage that will ensue is what they called as noise from empty stomach of the poor.

The residents are demanding the immediate implementation and expansion of the coverage of Presidential Proclamations 96 and 571 declaring parcels of land in Parola and Binondo for socialized housing. NUPCO member organizations Pambansang Katipunan ng Maralitang Pilipino (PKMP) and League of Urban Poor for Action (LUPA) shall lead the local protest action in this area.

“The forthcoming SONA of the President of Crises Gloria Macapagal Arroyo will be as usual, full of promises and empty rhetoric of progress bereft of the realities of poverty hammering the vast populace of the Filipino people including the urban poor,” said Von Mesina, NUPCO National Council member and Secretary General of PKMP.

“What we need is food on the table and not statistical progress as what GMA and her cohorts are providing this nation and the poor, NO FOOD, NO PROGRESS!” Mesina added.

Meanwhile, LUPA National Chairman Jess del Prado articulated that “the prices of food particularly rice and transportation had risen to a level we, the urban poor, cannot humanely confront, and with this kind of government it will continue to rise. The effect of globalization, which in reality is foreign and elite domination and exploitation of our country, is now effectively eroding the very foundation of any nation, the empowerment of the basic unit of our society, our families!”

“Look at us. We have nothing. No jobs, no formal education, no assured food on the table, no healthcare, NOTHING! What is left is our dignity. The dignity to force GMA to implement Proclamation 96 issued in 2001 and 571 issued in 2004 declaring parts of Parola Compound as land for socialized housing which she herself proclaimed and to fight for expanding the coverage of the proclamation and arrest the decades-long problem of security of land tenure of the people of Parola Compound and Isla Puting Bato. The dignity to fight for our right to life hindered by lack of sustainable jobs compound the high cost of rice and transportation. We only have the dignity to fight for our rights to HUMANE HOUSING AND DIGNIFIED LIVING!” said Joel Sacaguing, a local leader of PKMP.

Until now, despite the two proclamations issued by GMA, there is no realization of Parola residents’ wish and claim to rights to own the land they are occupying and security of land tenure. The groups asserted that GMA only used these proclamations to pacify residents who are known to distrust and dislike her.

NUPCO is a coalition of urban poor organizations nationwide. Its advocacy is to fight for HUMANE HOUSING AND DIGNIFIED LIVING FOR THE POOR.

PRESS RELEASE
July 24, 2008

July 24, 2008 Posted by | PRESS RELEASES/STATEMENTS | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

North Triangle residents ask Noli to include socialized housing in the planned Quezon City Central Business District

PRESS RELEASE
March 11, 2008

Residents of North Triangle are appealing to Vice President Noli de Castro to support their demand that the planned Central Business District of Quezon City, a commercial zoning development project covering the so-called North Triangle and East Triangle Area along North Avenue, include socialized housing for them. The residents are pushing for a mixed-use plan for the development of the area as alternative to relocating them in another place.

“Instead of moving 16,000 families to relocation sites far from their jobs and their source of livelihoods, the plan for the Central Business District should allocate space for medium rise buildings as affordable socialized housing for the residents,” said Edwin Nacpil, President of the San Roque Community Council – North Triangle Alliance or SRCC-NTA).

“According to a World Bank study of the Central Business District Project, it will be much more expensive for the government to relocate the families living in North Triangle than to provide socialized housing through medium-rise buildings under a mixed-use plan,” added Nacpil.

“We appeal to Vice-President Noli De Castro to support us by pushing for a mixed-use development plan. The development of North and East Triangle areas should be inclusive, rather than exclusive. It should be based on a mix of commercial and residential housing development, and on high-end and low-end development.”

De Castro, Chairman of the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC), is in charge of the Urban Triangle Development Commission, which covers 250-hectare North and East Triangle areas.

The Central Business District property is owned by the National Housing Authority (NHA). The Trinoma Mall, owned by the Ayalas, is one of the first malls to locate in the area.

The World Bank has dubbed the CBD project as “the center of gravity of commercial developments in Metro Manila in the coming years.” The site offers the most ideal locations in terms of metropolitan access. It will be linked to at least three metro rail transit stations, and has one of the most expansive EDSA frontages, compared to other central business districts. World Bank contracted the Japanese firm, Almec, to complete the framework plan. The estimated P3 billion project will transform a largely institutional and partly blighted area into one of the most profitable and productive in Quezon City.

According to the Quezon City website, the plan is to organize the CBD into five distinct commercial/residential/ recreational Districts:

• Triangle Exchange is envisioned to have the highest densities of the Triangle Park. It will have commercial and residential establishments fully integrated with the transit facilities, providing the best regional links and commuter access.
• Residences at Veterans will be a mixed-use community with a residential focus. It will have a mix of housing, from high-rise condominiums to medium and lower density dwellings. Residents will have the advantage of having expansive parks nearby.
• Downtown Hub will have institutional locators (medical, training, science, etc.) integrated with commercial and residential developments.
• Emporium will focus on information and technology activities.
• Commons will consist of a park with cultural, recreational, entertainment and amenity focus.

July 8, 2008 Posted by | North Triangle, PRESS RELEASES/STATEMENTS | , , , , | Leave a comment