Thursday, March 29, 2007

MEDIA ADVISORY: COHRE / UPA Media Conference

Attention: News Editor, News Desk, Reporters and Photojournalists

MEDIA ADVISORY

COHRE / UPA Media Conference

The Geneva-based Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions (COHRE) and the Urban Poor Associates (UPA) requests your presence at a joint media conference in Treehouse on Tuesday, 3 April 2007 (10.00 AM) to reveal the findings of a COHRE-led fact-finding mission to the Philippines. The fact-finding team will visit the relocation sites of those evicted from their homes due to the Northrail-Southrail Linkage Project. COHRE’s team of Human Right’s experts will also release their findings on the recent evictions that were carried out on the South Superhighway Bridge in Manila and the San Andres Bridge 1 on the Osmena Highway, Paco, in late February this year.

Mr Dan Nicholson, the Coordinator of COHRE’s Asia Pacific Programme who will lead the fact-finding mission, will be speaking at the media conference. The Government of the Philippines was the recipient of the “Housing Rights Violator Award” at the 2006 COHRE Housing Rights Awards in December 2006. The award was delivered to publicise the findings of COHRE’s extensive research in the area of international housing rights, and highlight cases for concern. The award was widely covered in the international and local media including Reuters, Associated Press, Agence France Presse, BBC World Service, Voice of America, the Manila Times, the Philippine Star, the Philippine Daily Inquirer, etc.

PHOTO OPS: “Kamatayan” will portray how forced evictions destroy poor people’s lives.

Date: April 3, 2007 (Tuesday)

Time: 10:00 am – 12:00 noon

Venue: Treehouse, 29 Matalino Street, Central District, Quezon City

Lunch will be provided at the conclusion of the media conference.

If you require further information please contact UPA on 632-4264118.

http://www.cohre.org/ http://jlagman17.blogspot.com

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Bishop criticizes heartless evictions of waterways dwellers


Urban Poor Associates
25-A Mabuhay Street, Brgy. Central, Q.C.
Telefax: 4264118 Tel.: 4264119 / 4267615

Ref: John Francis Lagman
http://www.flickr.com/photos/jlagman17
** NEWS RELEASE *** NEWS RELEASE *** NEWS RELEASE **

Bishop criticizes heartless evictions of waterways dwellers

23 March 2007. “Kahit na mahihirap iyan, kahit na ang kanilang lugar ay hindi dapat tirhan, mga tao iyan. Yung nakakalungkot, mahirap na yung mga tao, pahihirapan pa.”

These are the words how Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo, Chairman of the CBCP Housing Committee, sees the problem of poor families who were dislocated due to forced evictions and illegal demolitions along Estero de Paco, Estero Tripa de Gallina and Estero de Pandacan.

More than 1,000 families living along esteros which cover at least 15 barangays stretching from United Nations Avenue up to Osmeña Highway have found an advocate in Bishop Pabillo, who has offered to help them in a press conference held this morning at the Arzobispado de Manila.

“Kailangan sana ang pamahalaan natin ay sumunod sa batas. Kasi may batas naman tayo tungkol sa pagtatanggal ng mga tao at ginawa iyan upang igalang yung mga tao sa kanilang karapatang pantao. Dapat sana sa pagtanggal sa kanila, ilikas na may matitirhan pagkatapos,” Bishop Pabillo said.

While having a meeting with MMDA and other government officials yesterday, Bishop Pabillo received a text message regarding an on-going demolition in Pasay City. “Habang pinag-uusapan namin ang mga problema ng demolisyon, abala naman ang MMDA sa pagdedemolis. Ang gubyerno mismo ay hindi tumutupad ng batas,” Bishop Pabillo said.

Beginning February 27, settlers along waterways are being forcibly evicted by the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA). With no other place to go, these settlers were left homeless and so have made their makeshift tents on sidewalks along the streets.

As she cries, Catherine Arquero of Barangay 734 narrated her demolition story: “Marso 1 nang dumating sa aming lugar ang MMDA. Wala silang sinanto ni isa man sa amin, bagkus kami ay pinagnakawan pa. Wala rin silang pakialam sa mga kasangkapang aming napundar sa mahabang panahong pag-iipon, winasak po nila ang mga ito at itinapon sa ilog. Marami sa amin tinutukan ng baril, pinagmumura na parang hayop. Mula ng kami ay giniba hanggang sa kasalukuyan kami ay nasa kalye. Marami na sa mga bata ang nagkakasakit dahil sa init ng araw at lamig ng gabi. Wala po kaming mga banyo sa kalye. Ngunit ang labis ko pong kinababahala ay ang aming kaligtasan. Kami po ay sa gilid ng Osmeña Highway natutulog.”

“None of the 914 families evicted from waterways were relocated after often violent demolitions. Another 500 families are also on the same fate. The evictions were illegal since the MMDA failed to comply with guidelines on the conduct of demolitions,” according to Urban Poor Associates (UPA), a non-government organization that helps poor families in eviction crises.

“The law requires that families evicted from government land must be given decent relocation,” said Atty. Bienvenido Salinas II, coordinator of UPA’s legal unit, St. Thomas More Law Center.

The Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) issued on January 28 a Pastoral Statement on the Nation’s Housing Problems. The CBCP calls for a stop to uncaring evictions and demolitions and asks that laws be observed in the proper processes of eviction. “We cannot afford to be indifferent and complacent in front of this grave injustice…While Filipinos are getting known all over the world as good construction workers and builders, we are not able to provide houses for our homeless.”

"The bishops were able to publicize the issue, but they have not been able to influence government to take decisive steps to stop demolitions or provide better relocation," the UPA said in a statement.

The Philippine government suffers a severe backlog to housing, one of the most difficult social problems that UPA blame on officials' insincerity and lack of political will. “Many politicians are only playing on the basic needs of the poor people and cuddle them in pursuit of election victory,” the UPA added.
To survive in cities, poor people end up at garbage mounds, canals, or vacant lots, where they patch together shanties of wood, galvanized iron and other scraps. Regarded as an eyesore, however, these communities are always dismantled whenever cities pave the way for beautification and soulless development projects. -30-

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

MEDIA ADVISORY: RESIST FORCED EVICTIONS!

Urban Poor Associates
25-A Mabuhay Street, Brgy. Central, Q.C.
Tel.: 4264118 / 4264119 / 4267615
Fax: 4264118

Ref: John Francis M. Lagman
http://www.flickr.com/photos/jlagman17
­­­­­­­­­­­­­­---------------------------------------------------------------------------
Attention: News Editor, News Desk, Reporters and Photojournalists

MEDIA ADVISORY

RESIST FORCED EVICTIONS!

Poor families who were dislocated due to forced evictions and illegal demolitions along esteros have found a savior in Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo, who has offered to help them in a PRESS CONFERENCE to be held at the Arzobispado de Manila on Friday, March 23, 2007 (10:00 AM).

More than 1,000 families living along esteros which covers 14 barangays stretching from United Nations Avenue up to Osmeña Highway are being forcibly evicted by the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) and are virtually dumped on the streets due to lack of relocation site.

With no other place to go, these settlers have made their makeshift houses along the streets near their demolished houses in Estero de Paco, Estero Tripa de Gallina and Estero de Pandacan.

The people affected will present the problems. The law requires that families evicted from government land must be given decent relocation.

Photo ops: Children will re-enact the violent MMDA demolitions.

Date: March 23, 2007 (Friday)

Time: 10:00 AM

Venue: Arzobispado de Manila 121 Arzobispo St., Intramuros, Manila

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Wanted: Candidates for the solid 8 million UP-All vote

Urban Poor Positions

We, the Urban Poor Alliance (UP-All), a coalition of 800 urban poor NGOs and people’s organizations, ask candidates to sign their agreement to these urban poor positions and promise to work for their realization when elected. UP-All promises to distribute thousands of copies of the positions and signatures. The following positions are the same as those advanced by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines in its February 8, 2007 “Statement on the Nation’s Housing Problem.”


Forced and Illegal Evictions. Thousands of poor families are evicted each year (40,000 plus in 2006) by Local Government Units and agencies, such as, Metro Manila Development Authority, National Housing Authority and the Department of Public Works and Highways. They regularly fail to provide any relocation, so the families are literally dumped in the street contrary to the Constitution (Art. 13, Sec. 9), our law (R.A. 7279) and international covenants the Philippines has signed that have the force of Philippine law.

We seek improvements in the law (R.A. 7279) but we realize good laws are not enough and require strong political will to achieve results. We ask your total involvement as legislators and advocates.

The following areas seem certain to be cleared of residents: C-5, R-10, North and South Rail, Pasig River (10-meter easement), and Esteros.

We ask our candidates:

a. To strengthen the laws governing evictions. Make the people’s right to relocation very clear. Also the law needs clarification on many points.

b. Punish those who put poor women, children and the aged in the streets. To date no official has been punished, though thousands of poor families have been evicted without relocation. This requires executive department action, but severe penalties can encourage observance of the law.

c. Guarantee decent, that is, in-city or near-city relocation to all evicted families. Cardinal Rosales has repeatedly asked government to be generous in interpreting deadlines and cut-off dates when deciding who are beneficiaries of relocation. All evicted poor families need relocation.

d. After the election immediately conduct hearings in Senate on the eviction problem.

e. Establish an Independent Commission to control illegal forced evictions. This commission, to be appointed by the president, must sign off on all evictions or the evictions are forced and illegal, and the people in charge are liable to punishment. It will have the power to issue subpoenas duces tecum. (See Appendix A)


The poor have a right to the city as citizens. Land and housing, therefore, must be found within the city. The following measures are steps in this direction:

· Triple the coverage of the Community Mortgage Program (from 13,000 families to 39,000).

· Upgrade and title all urban land proclaimed since 2001. This should include basic services (light, water, drainage, sanitation), lot assignment, and housing assistance. People will pay affordable monthly amortization.

· Continue urban land proclamations at a rate of about 50,000 families per year.

· Private landowners who have poor people living on their land should receive tax breaks if they grant the families long-term leases (10-15 years).

· A more basic solution to the high cost of urban land must be found during the first year of the next Congress. It can involve higher taxes on idle land and other proposals that have been suggested by experts for many years.


Basic Services

· Make it illegal for government or private land owner to deny right of way for water and light services to urban poor communities. To do so violates international law.

· Make it illegal for barangay officials to profit financially from light and water delivery.

· Installment fees cannot be paid all at once by most poor people. Extend payment over 18-24 months.

· Bring back the Depressed Area Electrification Program (DAEP).


Local Housing Boards

Require all cities and municipalities to have a functioning local Housing Boards.


Establish the Church-Government-Civil Society Planning Committee. As the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines did in its “Statement on the Nation’s Housing Problem”, January 28, 2007, we recommend the immediate creation of a government-Church-civil society commission that will provide guidelines for the further development of our cities, so that the urban poor will have a decent place to live and economic development will go hand in hand with social and environmental considerations. The said commissions in each city and town can immediately conduct consultations to discuss and resolve the issues on homelessness in a pro-active way. Planning of mass housing for the poor is a concern of public officials for the sake of the common good, and not only of property developers for their own profit.

· There may be a committee in every urban center.

· A duty of the Committee will be to review major infrastructure plans to guarantee the minimum number of poor people are evicted.

· Another duty will be to organize critical discussions of governmental urban plans, in order to achieve prosperity and social justice in the country. There is at present no such body with the result that our cities and towns are largely unplanned and present a challenge to decent living rather than a help.


Community Mortgage Program and the Social Housing Finance Corporation. The Community Mortgage Program (CMP) was designed to minimize if not prevent forcible evictions. The Social Housing Finance Corporation was a major advocacy campaign of the urban poor. However, the SHFC has fallen short of the goals people had for it. It is supposed to handle the Community Mortgage Program and other forms of housing programs and schemes. It has failed to expand the CMP or offer other services.

We recommend the scaling up of the CMP by adopting the localization scheme. The Localized CMP will enable LGUs to access funds from SHFC and relend to its urban poor communities. We also recommend the enactment of a special charter for the SHFC. (See draft bill in Appendix B)


Other Needs. Many urban poor people are hungry or cannot afford to purchase the World Health Organization’s minimum water needs, or lack legal electric connections, or send their children to deteriorating schools or lack money to buy medicines.

Based on President Ramon Magsaysay’s aphorism: “He who has less in life, should have more in law,” we suggest the position of Ombudsman for the urban poor be created. His or her job will be to see the poor get an even break and even extra help, which is called “affirmation action” in other countries.


Signatures of Candidates:


_____________________________ ______________________________



_____________________________ ______________________________



(Appendix A)

URBAN POOR LEGISLATIVE AGENDA:

1. BILL TO REMOVE THE CUT-OFF DATE OF THE UDHA (MARCH 1992)

· The conditions listed in the UDHA for the three-year demolition moratorium (beneficiary listing, urban lands inventory, resettlement plans) were not complied with;

· With an annual average population increase for urban areas of 5%, the number of urban poor not covered by the UDHA is a staggering ___________.
The cut-all date was arbitrary contingent on a number of things that should have been implemented but were not by government. Hence, it has become discriminatory against the urban poor who came in after March 1992 and rendering them vulnerable to various human rights violations whose only fault is being born poor. The CBCP statement on housing quotes the Pontifical Commission Justice and Peace on the International Year of Shelter for the Homeless: “Any person or family that, without any direct fault on his or her part, does not have suitable housing is the victim of an injustice.

· This violates the equal protection of law for all.

· This violates Philippine treaty obligations arising from its being a signatory of international treaties, such as, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, etc. which guarantee the enjoyment of housing rights for all.


2. Bill to disallow the use of the national building code, specifically, the non-compliance of securing a building permit, for the urban poor.

· Even during Martial Law, Minister Hipolito had already disallowed this with his memorandum order, saying that the national building code does not apply to urban poor housing.


3. Bill to set up an independent quasi judicial body with powers to monitor, investigate and to stop demolitions that do not comply with the law.

· Massive violations of the UDHA continue to take place with impunity. One recourse is to go to court, but this is expensive and time-consuming so that by the time the court acts, the case has become moot and academic.

· Another recourse was provided by Executive Order No. 152, but practice has shown it to be toothless. Many government agencies and LGUs simply ignored it and have not been called to account.

· This is based on the recommendation of the UN in 1995.


4. Bill to limit to the issues listed in Section 28 of the UDHA as basis for demolition and strict compliance with the steps listed in Section 28.

· Government agencies and LGUs, including private individuals, have been using reasons other than those listed in the UDHA to carry out demolitions, such as, violation of the National Building Cose, nuisance, and old decrees and instructions issued by former dictator Marcos.


5. Bill obliging government agencies and LGUs to conduct consultations on and to implement in-city or near-city.

· UDHA says where feasible relocation should be in-city. A process open to public participation should be undertaken to determine what sites are feasible, instead of limiting the decision making to a small group of government planners and politicians. Government budgets should include allocation to acquire/expropriate in-city lands for relocation.


(Appendix B)

AN ACT CREATING THE SOCIAL HOUSING FINANCE CORPORATION, DEFINING THE POWERS AND DUTIES, APPROPRIATING FUNDS THEREFORE, AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in the Philippines in Congress assembled.

Section 1. Title. This Act shall be known as THE CHARTER OF THE SOCIAL
HOUSING FINANCE CORPORATION OF THE YEAR 2004.

Section 2. Creation. There is hereby created a Social Housing Finance Corporation (SHFC), which shall be the primary agency providing end-buyers financing for the low-income group, including the informal sector of the economy. It shall also provide developmental financing to developers, provided that the funds are utilized for socialized housing programs and projects.

To achieve this objective, the administration and/ or trusteeship of the Community Mortgage Program and the Abot Kaya Pabahay Fund (amortization support program and developmental financing program) are transferred from the NHMFC to the SHFC.

Section 3. Domicile. The Corporation shall have its principal place of business in
Metro Manila, but may have branches and agencies in other places as may be
necessary for the proper conduct of business.

Section 4. Capitalization. The Corporation shall have an authorized capital of Fifteen Billion Pesos (P15,000,000,000.00), divided into Fifteen Million shares (P15,000,000) with a par value of One Thousand Pesos per share, to be subscribed and paid for by
the Government of the Republic of the Philippines. In addition to the cash infusion
of the Government, the properties of the present NHMFC which may be transferred
to the Corporation and the contributions of the Government to the Community
Mortgage Program, shall be exchanged for shares of stock to the Corporation and
shall represent the equity investment of the Government.

Section 5. Purposes of the Corporation. The purposes of the Corporation shall
be as follows:

(a) To provide end buyers’ financing to the low-income groups, including the informal sector of the economy; and
(b) To provide developmental financing for socialized housing programs and projects

Section 6. Powers and Functions. The corporation shall have the following powers and functions:

(a) To provide end buyers’ financing to the low-income groups, including the informal sector of the economy;

(b) To provide developmental financing for socialized
housing programs and projects

(c) To administer the Amortization Support and Development Financing Components of the Abot Kaya Pabahay Fund, created under RA 6846, as amended by RA 7835

(d) To administer the Community Mortgage Program and innovative ways to
expand the Program and make it more accessible to the low-income
groups;

(e) To support people’s initiatives for self-help and incremental housing;

(f) To borrow funds from domestic or foreign, private and public financial institutions, and subdivision and condominium developers;

(g) To own, lease, purchase or otherwise acquire, sell or otherwise dispose of property, real or personal, as may be necessary and appropriate for the
conduct of its business;

(h) To invest the funds or monies of the Corporation not needed for end-
buyers’ and developmental financing in government securities and/or
deposited in government banks to ensure its liquidity, safety and growth;

(i) To enter into and perform such contracts with any person or entity, public
or private. As may be necessary, proper and conducive to the attainment
or furtherance of the objectives and purposes of the Corporation;

(j) To adopt, alter and use a corporate seal; to sue and to be sued; and
generally, to exercise all the powers of a corporation under the
Corporation Code which are not inconsistent herewith; and

(k) To promulgate such rules and regulations and to do and perform any and
all acts as may be necessary and proper to carry out is responsibilities,
powers and functions under this Act.

Section 7. Borrowing Power. Subject to the prior approval of the Monetary Board of
the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas and the President of the Philippines, the
Corporation shall borrow from domestic and foreign private or public financial
institutions, and subidivision and condominium developers, such amount as may,
from time to time be required for its operations, or issue bonds, promissory notes, debentures, certificates of indebtedness, and other debt instruments in foreign
currency. No part of the proceeds of domestic and//or foreign borrowings shall be
used for operating expenses of the Corporation.

The bonds, promissory notes, debentures, certificates of indebtedness and
other debt instruments issued in local or foreign currency shall be at such interest rates, maturities and other terms and conditions as the Corporation may determine.
The debt instruments may be secured by the assets of the Corporation and shall be
fully exempt, both as to the principal and interest, from any and all taxes imposed by
the Government or any of its subdivision. The debt instruments shall be negotiable
and shall be unconditionally guaranteed as to the principal and interest by the Government of the Republic of the Philippines, through the Home Guaranty Corporation, which guaranty shall be indicated on the face thereof.

A sinking fund is hereby created for the payment of the Corporation’s bonds issued under the provisions hereof in such manner that the total contribution thereto, accrued at such rate of interest as may be determined by the Secretary of Finance in consultation with the Monetary Board, shall be sufficient to redeem the bonds of maturity. The said fund shall be held in trust by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas that shall have the power to:

(i) invest the same in such manner as the Monetary Board may approve;
(ii) charge all expenses of such investment to the said sinking fund; and,
(iii) credit the same with the interest on investments and other incomes
belonging to it.

A standby annual appropriation is hereby made out of any general funds in the National Treasury in such amount as may be necessary to provide for the sinking
Fund created herein and for the interest on bonds issued by the Corporation by
virtue hereof.

Section 8. Alternative Compliance to the Agri-Agra Law and Section 18 of the Urban Development and Housing Act. Subscription by banks of bonds and other
forms of indebtedness issued by the SHFC utilizing the portion of the Agri-Agra
Law, and R.A. 7835, otherwise known as the Comprehensive and Integrated Shelter Financing Act, and their Implementing Rules and Regulations.

Likewise, purchase of subdivision and condominium developers of these debt
instrument issued by the SHFC, in the amount of twenty percent (20%) of the total subdivision or condominium project cost, shall be considered compliance of the requirement prescribed under Section 18 of R.A. 7279 and its Implementing Rules.

Section 9. Governing Body. The powers and functions of SHFC shall be governed
by a Board of Directors, as follows:

(a) The Chairman of the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council
who shall be the Chairperson of the Board. Whenever the Chairman of
Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council is unable to attend the
meeting of the Board, he/she shall designate the Secretary General as his
alternate, but who shall not act as Chairperson.

(b) The President of the Corporation, who shall be the Vice-Chairperson;

© The Secretary of the Department of Finance. Whenever, the Secretary of
Finance is unable to attend, he/she shall designate an Undersecretary or
any Assistant Secretary to act as alternate.

(d) The Secretary of the Department of the Interior and Local Government.
Whenever, the Secretary of Interior and Local Government is unable to
attend, he/she shall designate an Undersecretary or any Assistant Secretary to
act as alternate.

(e) The Secretary of the Department of Budget and Management. Whenever,
the Secretary of Budget and Management is unable to attend, he/she shall
designate an Undersecretary or any Assistant Secretary to act as alternate.

(f) Representative from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas designated by the BSP
Governor.

(g) Four (4) representatives from the non-government organization, to be
appointed by the President of the Republic of the Philippines.

The members of the Board shall receive a per diem and reasonable transportation
and representation, at par with other government financial institutions, as may be provided by the Board of Trustees and approved by the President of the
Philippines.

Section 10. Powers of the Board. The Board shall have the following powers:

(a) To formulate policies, rules and regulations to effectively carry out the functions of the SHFC under this Act;
(b) To direct the management, operations and administration of the SHFC;
© To authorize such expenditures by the SHFC in the interest of the
effective administration and operations and
(d) Upon recommendation of the President of the SHFC to appoint and fix
the remuneration and other emoluments of subordinate officers and
personnel of the SHFC, and to remove or otherwise discipline such
officers or employees for cause as may be provided by law.

Section 11. President. The Chief Executive Officer of the SHFC shall be the
President who shall be appointed by the President of the Republic of the Philippines
for a term of 6 years unless sooner removed for cause or by reason or incapacity. He must be of good moral character, responsible, of unquestionable integrity and probity and must be of recognized competence in any of the field of economics, banking, finance, commerce or industry.

Section 12. Powers and Duties of the President. The President shall have the
following powers:

(a) To prepare the agenda for the meetings of the board and to submit for consideration of the board, policies and measures which he believes are necessary to carry out the purposes and objectives of the SHFC;
(b) To execute and administer the policies and measures adopted by the
board; and
(c) To direct and supervise the operations and internal administration of the SHFC. He may delegate other administrative responsibilities to other executive officers of the SHFC subject to such rules and regulations promulgated by the Board, and to exercise such other powers as may be vested in him by the Board.

The salary of the President of the SHFC shall be fixed and determined by the Board of Directors as provided in Section 10 (d) hereof. The Board may authorize the payment of allowances and other emoluments to the President
of the Corporation.

Section 13. Appointment of Personnel. All other officers and employees of the
SHFC shall be appointed by the Board upon the recommendation of the President of
the SHFC.

Section 14. Auditor. The Chairman of the Commission on Audit shall act as the
ex-officio auditor of the SHFC and, as such, is empowered to appoint a
representative who shall act as the auditor of the corporation. He shall also appoint
the necessary personnel to assist said representatives in the performance of his duties.
The auditor of the SHFC and personnel under him may be removed only by the
Chairman of the Commission on Audit.

Section 15. Tax Exemption. Notwithstanding the provision of any general or
special law to the contrary, the SHFC, its properties and transaction except income
shall be exempted from the payment of all taxes, duties, fees and other charges including costs, service and filing fees, appeal bonds in any court in administrative proceedings.

Section 16. Separability Clause. If for any reason any section or provision of this
Act is declared to be unconstitutional or invalild, the other provision not affected
thereby shall continue in force and effect.

Section 17. Effectivity. This Act shall take effect after fifteen (15) days following
its publication in at least two (2) newspapers of general circulation.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Much more than 100,000 in Metro Manila homeless -- study

Urban Poor Associates
25-A Mabuhay Street, Brgy. Central, Q.C.
Telefax: 4264118 Tel.: 4264119 / 4267615

Ref: John Francis Lagman
http://www.flickr.com/photos/jlagman17

** NEWS RELEASE *** NEWS RELEASE *** NEWS RELEASE **

Much more than 100,000 in Metro Manila homeless -- study

6 March 2007. Much more than 100,000 ‘new’ types of homeless have emerged in Metro Manila and they are all products of globalization and a mark of modern capitalism, according to a study recently presented to the Institute on Church and Social Issues (ICSI).

It also said that it is only a matter of time that this types of homeless will increase more and more, and that its existence will be recognized as the ‘new homeless’ different from the squatter homeless as they become noticeable everywhere.

“These are the people moving on the streets in some constant range and who cannot live even in the squatters,” said Hideo Aoki Ph.D., Director of Japan’s Urban Sociology Research Center and a research fellow at the Ateneo de Manila University.

Aoki said that street homeless have not attracted people’s attention so far because their existence has been overwhelmed by the large-scale squatter problem. According to him, the process why globalization resulted in the increase of street homeless is composed of the following sub-processes that are functional to each other:

Increase of life chance
The globalization has brought the expansion of the service economy in Manila. And it has brought the increase of the life chance for street homeless. First, the business facilities, the convenience store, the family restaurant etc. have increased drastically. As a result the life resources such as food with which street homeless can survive have increased. And the opportunity for street homeless to beg the money has increased too. This process is the first pull-factor that induces the poor people to the streets.

Secondly, the expansion of the service economy has urged the informalization of labor, that is, the increase of the new various occupations which poor people could be engaged in with the small equity capital and without any special knowledge and skills. The existing informal sector has expanded too. As a result jobs on the street such as vendor, scavenger, barker, carrier have increased especially in the bottom of the informal sector. Finally, the new informal occupations such as cleaner, sandwich man, car watcher, errand etc. have appeared. These job conditions have produced the new life chances of street homeless. This is the second pull-factor that induces the poor people to the streets.

Downward pressure in the status
The globalization has urged to reorganize the labor market through the neo-liberalist restructuring of company, that is, the flexibilization of labor, which worker is requested to have the ability to perform the various jobs and the contractualization of employment, which limits the worker’s employment term in 3 to 6 months. They have made the worker’s employment status unstable and cut back the real wage. There have increased the workers who get wages under the minimum level even in the modern companies including the multi-national corporations. Those conditions have made the worker's life situation worsen. Some workers have had side jobs mostly in the informal sector, other workers have transferred from the companies to the informal occupations. And other family members have set to work mostly in the informal occupation. All of these strengthened the downward pressure to the worker’s status. This situation of labor became the general background in which people in the bottom of the society became homeless. This process is the first push-factor that pushes the poor people to the streets.

Demolition of squatter
The globalization has accelerated the competition among the capitals and has urged to redevelop the land. The market of real estate has expanded. The lands, which were unused and devastated, have been redeveloped. And the gentrification of inner-city has been proceeded. The government’s policies such as privatization of the public land, improvement of the dangerous area, beautification of the street have accelerated these processes. And the demolition of squatter has been practiced from the inner-city. Squatter has increased on the surrounding edge of city, where the unused and devastated lands remained. People who were not given the lands to live, who rejected to transfer to the relocation sites and who returned from the relocation sites to Manila have increased. Among them people who did not have relatives to rely on have stayed on the streets. This process is the second push-factor that pushes the poor people to the streets.

Deadlock of operating the policies
The globalization has given birth a small government through the neo-liberalism, and has deteriorated the financial crisis of developing country. As a result the policies about homeless people have gone to be deadlocked. Firstly, the policy to create jobs for the urban poor, especially the squatter inhabitants, has been deadlocked. Secondly, the policy for the land secure and the house construction for the squatter inhabitants have been deadlocked. The compensation such as relocation has been practiced only for some parts of squatter inhabitants. Thirdly, the policy for the employment and the welfare that should relieve the street homeless has been deadlocked. There have been no homeless measures worth of special mention except the emergency aid of medical treatment, and six temporary facilities for the street homeless in Manila. These conditions are the third push-factor that pushes the poor people to the streets.
 
Street homeless are formed as a social stratum through the processes in which the various factors which induce the poor people to the streets, the pull-factors, and the various factors which push the poor people to the streets, the push-factors, operate together. The circumstances in which homeless people are produced are different in each country, each city being defined by each history. However, ‘new homeless’ has appeared almost at the same time in the cities of industrial country and of developing country.

According to Aoki, the increase of the street people in Manila has its unique process prescribed by the history in the Philippines: Why is the Philippines’ economy not able to take off? Why is the Philippines’ government not able to resolve the problems of poverty and housing? What political, social and cultural conditions are there behind those problems?

The transformation of urban industrial and spatial structure through the globalization is intensively represented in the situation of new homeless. The homeless problem ranged over a wide variety of social areas from exploitation, discrimination and exclusion to civility, public space and social movements. It manifested, at a stroke, the modern society’s diverse set of problems. New homeless are a symbolic existence that expresses the polarization of urban class structure. -30-

For additional information please contact John Lagman
(632) 4264118.