Thursday, September 27, 2007

Church joins housing rights advocates in observance of Habitat Day

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

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Church joins housing rights advocates in observance of Habitat Day


28 September 2007. Bagbag cemetery is what Encarnacion Regalado and her family call ‘home’. They are living on top of a niche, using sacks as wall and dilapidated iron sheets as roof. The family has survived there for 28 years in the midst of heavy rains and a hell-like weather. Their horrific experience so far was not about ghost encounter but the non-stop demolition to make way for new compartments for the dead.

Regalado family is only one of the increasing number of homeless in Metro Manila, according to Urban Poor Associates (UPA), a non-government organization dealing with homelessness. “The government’s policies such as privatization of the public land, improvement of the dangerous area, beautification of the street have triggered forced evictions and illegal demolitions rendering poor families homeless.”

UPA called for a halt to demolitions as the world celebrates Habitat Day on October 1. "Driving away people from their homes is the most inhuman way to celebrate the World Habitat Day,” said Lawyer Bienvenido Salinas II, coordinator of UPA's legal unit St. Thomas More Law Center.

UPA notes that almost all cases of rampant demolitions being conducted by the government throughout Metro Manila have violated in one way or another the international laws and the Urban Development and Housing Act (UDHA), which prohibits use of force during demolitions and requires provision of suitable relocation areas.

Lack of adequate housing highlights a key concern in a letter signed last September 13, 2007 by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) President and Jaro Archbishop Angel Lagdameo.

The CBCP Permanent Council requests Archbishops, Bishops and Diocesan Administrators, to enjoin their priests to read in all Holy Masses on October 7 the CBCP’s “A Statement on the Nation’s Housing Problems" which was issued by the 94th Bishops' Plenary Assembly.

“As we speak in behalf of our homeless brethren and those living in very difficult conditions, let us continue praying for the speedy action of the government in response to their needs. Let us help them in whatever way we can,” Archbishop Lagdameo said.

Task Force Anti-Illegal Demolition (TF-AID) lauded the Church’s efforts in calling on those concerned to stop uncaring evictions and demolitions. Novaliches Bishop Antonio Tobias, for example, has condemned as inhuman the ongoing demolition of houses along Commonwealth, Quezon City. Last September 24, together with priests and nuns, Bishop Tobias personally asked Mayor Feliciano Belmonte to stop the wrecking crew of Metro Manila Development Authority so that affected families can find temporary staging area.

TF-AID spokesperson Soti Sabarre said poor families who are mostly under eviction threat are set to mobilize next week to urge the government to look into their plight instead of the mouthwatering ZTE deal. “The $329-million contract for the National Broadband Network (NBN) project could already house 300,000 homeless families but this government would never borrow that amount to uplift the lives of the poor.”

TF-AID was formed by UPA, Community Organization of the Philippine Enterprise (COPE) Foundation, Community Organizers Multiversity (COM) and people’s organizations affected by government projects such as flood control, railway improvement, road widening and beautification. -30-

Friday, September 21, 2007

Structures along Litex road in QC demolished




MMDA demolishes illegal police outpost




MMDA to continue demolition of structures near roads


Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Reporter's Notebook: Northrail




Riles at Relokasyon
Jiggy Manicad

The North Luzon Railway Project is envisioned to bring about a modern rail system that runs from Caloocan in Metro Manila to Clark, Pampanga. The project’s first phase will run from Caloocan to Malolos, Bulacan and is expected to cost P500 million or about P25 billion. This phase is expected to be completed this year but despite funds for the project having already been spent, not even half has been completed. The project has been assailed from the start, with some quarters questioning why it didn’t undergo a bidding. Although the railway project appears to have stalled, the demolition of the shanties of informal settlers who live along the railway lines goes on. The government has spent a billion pesos to transfer these families but complaints have sprung up over the lack of water, power and jobs in the relocation areas. The houses in the relocation areas are said to be of substandard quality. Will questions that hound this project be answered?

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

MMDA demolishes creekside structures


Group welcomes Mayor Cuerpo’s offer to house 500,000 homeless



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

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Group welcomes Mayor Cuerpo’s offer to house 500,000 homeless

11 September 2007. Metro Manila's poor have won a promise from Rodriguez Mayor Pedro Cuerpo to provide relocation sites to at least 500,000 informal settlers who would be displaced from their homes to give way to various government projects.

“Ako ay naniniwala na ang susi sa pag-unlad ay ang mga tao. Kaya bukas ang bayan ng Montalban sa mga apektado ng proyekto,” Mayor Cuerpo said. “Nagbigay na ako ng offer, willingness to cooperate and help relocatees of Northrail-Southrail Project,” he added.

In stressing his town’s humble offer, Cuerpo explained that poor people can be productive citizens in Rodriguez by joining livelihood program for agriculture. “May ordinansa kami na kapag di ginagamit ang bakanteng lupa ay pweding taniman upang mapakinabangan. Pero di pweding ariin,” Cuerpo said.

Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo, chair of the Housing Committee of the Catholic Bishop’s Conference of the Philippines, who has been assisting poor families in eviction crises welcomed the move.

Bishop Pabillo urged the government to hear those who are desperately in need. “Kulang ang konsultasyon sa demolisyon. Yung mga choices sa kanila ay napakaliit. Bunga nito hindi pahahalagahan ang kanilang relokasyon sa malayong lugar, babalik ulit iyan sa Manila,” Pabillo said.

“Sana tingnan yung mga tao, konsultahin para hindi masayang yung perang gagamitin nila sa relokasyon,” Pabillo added.

Results of a survey done by Urban Poor Associates (UPA) indicated that poor people in distant relocation sites would likely go back to Metro Manila due to the following issues: lack of electricity and potable water, livelihood and job problems, high cost of commodities and transportation, payments of units alloted, problem on security, and poor facilities.

Leaders of Manila area communities met with Mayor Cuerpo and Bishop Pabillo at the Arzobispado de Manila yesterday to find alternatives to the government’s policy of relocating poor people to remote sites.

Destined to be relocated in distant sites where life is extremely hard, Samahang Apektadong Pamilya sa Riles (SAPAR) have taken initiatives to find alternative relocation sites like Rodriguez.

They said they accepted relocation of a certain quality which would not cause poor families economic loss. For example, they object to being relocated to sites more than 40 kilometers outside the city where their jobs are.

Urban poor groups had sought to dialogue on their resettlement with the National Housing Authority, but their requests were either denied or "nothing fruitful" came of the talks. ###

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Bishop Pabillo, Mayor Cuerpo back railway families’ plea for alternative relocation site

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

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Bishop Pabillo, Mayor Cuerpo back railway families’ plea for alternative relocation site

10 September 2007. Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo and Rodriguez Mayor Pedro Cuerpo joined grassroots organizations this morning in a press conference held at the Arzobispado de Manila to demand that the government find alternatives to its policy of relocating poor people to remote sites.

Railway families who are facing imminent threat of evictions due to the Northrail-Southrail Linkage Project press the government to arrange that necessary relocation be to nearby sites like Rodriguez, and no longer to places two or more hours drive outside Metro Manila which is far from their jobs.

Mayor Cuerpo is offering hope to railway families as he has certified that the Municipality of Rodriguez in Rizal is willing to accept families living along the railroad tracks from Sampaloc up to Sta. Cruz, Manila.

Destined to be dumped in distant relocation sites where life is extremely hard, Samahang Apektadong Pamilya sa Riles (SAPAR) have taken initiatives to find alternative relocation sites for some 1,500 families. Despite many appeals the National Housing Authority (NHA) refuses to accept the Montalban relocation site.

The group also expressed admiration for Bishop Pabillo's consistent support for the poor. The chairman of the Philippine bishops' Housing Committee has assailed the soulless eviction of poor families.

The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines has called the attention of the government in its pastoral statements on the homeless (1997) and on the nation’s housing problems (2007) to stop uncaring demolitions as it only put poor families from danger zone to death zone.

The government’s efforts to decongest Metro Manila by relocating poor people to distant places is simply pathetic, according to Urban Poor Associates (UPA), a non-government organization that concentrates on evictions and slum-upgrading.

Results of a survey done by UPA indicated that poor people in distant relocation sites would likely go back to Metro Manila due to the following issues: lack of electricity and potable water, livelihood and job problems, high cost of commodities and transportation, payments of units alloted, problem on security, and poor facilities.

Lawyer Bienvenido Salinas II, coordinator of UPA's legal unit St. Thomas More Law Center said the law requires that families evicted from government land be given decent relocation. “The Constitution clearly stated in its Article XIII (Section 10) that no resettlement of urban poor dwellers should be undertaken without adequate consultation with them and the communities where they are to be relocated.” ###

Monday, September 03, 2007

MEDIA ADVISORY : Bishop Pabillo, Mayor Cuerpo come to the aid of railway families

Hundreds of railway families in Manila who are facing imminent threat of evictions and demolitions due to the Northrail-Southrail Linkage Project have found advocates in Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo and Rodriguez Mayor Pedro Cuerpo who have offered to help in a press conference to be held at the Arzobispado de Manila on September 10, Monday (10:00 AM).

Poor families living along the railroad tracks in Sampaloc will ask the government to take another look at in-city or near-city relocation sites, for example in Rodriguez (Montalban), Rizal.

Destined to be dumped in distant relocation sites where life is extremely hard, grassroots organizations have taken initiatives to find alternative relocation sites.

The Constitution clearly stated in its Article XIII (Section 10) that no resettlement of urban poor dwellers should be undertaken without adequate consultation with them and the communities where they are to be relocated.

Photo ops: A woman in Filipiniana dress will receive a mock-up 100 Million Dollar Cheque as Official Demolition Assistance (ODA) fund from a woman with South Korean costume; Poor people will act out as miserable patients to depict the tragedy brought about by forced evictions and distant relocation.

Date: September 10, 2007 (Monday)

Time: 10:00 AM

Venue: Arzobispado de Manila
121 Arzobispo Street, Intramuros, Manila

For further information, please contact the Urban Poor Associates (UPA) at (632) 4264118 / 4264119 / 4267615.