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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 | , , , , , , , , | 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

Parola residents claim rights to own the land they are occupying

At 6 pm of July 24, the series of community actions dubbed as “SONA ng MARALITA, HINDI ng MASALITA! Sa Community, HINDI sa Commonwealth” by the National Urban Poor Coalition (NUPCO) kicked off at Parola Compound in Manila.

A hundred slum dwellers/informal settlers gathered in front of Gate 20 of Parola Compound where they held a candlelighting which according to them symbolized 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 ensued was what they called as noise from empty stomach of the poor.

The residents were 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.

“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 Pambansang Katipunan ng Maralitang Pilipino (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, League of Urban Poor for Action (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 member organizations Pambansang Katipunan ng Maralitang Pilipino (PKMP) and League of Urban Poor for Action (LUPA) led the local protest action in the area.

July 25, 2008 Posted by | Parola, PILOT CAMPAIGN AREAS | , , , , , , , | 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