PGMA, Bayani Fernando, not heroes to urban poor
“Makataong pamumuhay, hindi demolisyon!”
Manila, 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.
The 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 nupco | PRESS RELEASES/STATEMENTS | Bayani Fernando, demolition, EO 803, Gloria Arroyo, makataong pamumuhay, National Heroes Day, rally, social protection, urban poor | 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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