Urban Poor Associates
25-A Mabuhay Street, Brgy. Central, Q.C.
Telefax: 4264118 Tel.: 4264119 / 4267615
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MMDA criticized for banning Christmas carolers
11 December 2007. For banning Christmas carolers from Metro Manila’s streets beginning on human rights day, the country may now be called the Grinch (nasty creatures that hates Christmas) capital of the world and deserves to be at the Guiness book of world records courtesy of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA).
While street caroling may be dangerous, the government should know and understand why poor kids have to do street caroling instead of staying in the comforts of their homes just like ordinary kids, according to a housing rights group who finds the ban ridiculous.
The Urban Poor Associates (UPA) called on MMDA Chairman Bayani Fernando to immediately lift the ban and instead find out the reason why children desperately keep on caroling despite knowing their lives would be at risk due to speeding vehicles.
“We are not encouraging street carolers but these kids out of poverty may be pitching in to help feed their families and yet the government look at them as criminals. If there is a law banning Christmas carolers in this so-called only Christian nation in Asia, this is the most cruel, antisocial and Christmas-hating,” said Ted Añana, UPA deputy coordinator.
Research shows that more than 100,000 persons in Metro Manila are homeless, according to UPA. “Perhaps without man-made disasters like forced evictions and unlawful demolitions especially those being made by MMDA, there will truly be a “Metro Gwapo” where streets will be free of homeless and children doesn’t have to stop schooling and work to survive in slums.”
“They blamed poor people on floods and not the poor drainage system. After driving the poor families away from their shanties, now they are rounding them up from the streets. They have nowhere else to go. We won’t be surprised if next time they move to ban the Christmas for the poor,” Añana added.
Besides rounding up Christmas carolers, the government needs something better to do, the group said. “Corruption monitors confirm that graft and bribery in the country remain rampant. Corruption has penetrated every level of government, from the high-ranking officials down to the MMDA personnel who pull over motorists to demand bribes.”
UPA challenged the government, if it is indeed concern on the “safety of the children and the motorists”, to allocate its overflowing discretionary and intelligence funds to homeless children and the sorry state of the country's public transportation system.
UPA also reminds that Christmas caroling, aside from a holiday tradition, is more than just giving cash gifts. “The true meaning of Christmas lies in the heart of each person. It is a reminder of our childhood and an opportunity to discover kindness among strangers in this wild world.”
UPA asks MMDA: Why ban Christmas carol singers from streets in metropolis?
Urban poor group slams ban on street carol singers