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Bishops, Urban Poor Groups To Discuss Housing Rescue Plan with PGMA
31 July 2008. With the help of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, urban poor groups will meet President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo tomorrow (August 1) in Malacañang to discuss the looming housing problems in Metro Manila.
Archbishop Diosdado Talamayan of Tuguegarao, Bishop Ramon Villena of Bayombong and some leaders belonging to the Task Force Anti-Eviction will meet President Arroyo for the second time this year to tackle a housing rescue plan that will help thousands of urban poor families.
Task Force Anti-Eviction is composed of people’s organizations such as Market 3 Fishport of Navotas Neighborhood Association, Samahang Pinagbuklod ng Pagkakaisa, Samahang taga-Estero sa Pasay, Bacood Ilaya Looban Homeowners Association, Pinagbuklod – Ugnayang Lakas ng mga Apektadong Pamilya sa Baybaying Ilog Pasig, Samahang Magkakapitbahay ng Valderrama, Samahan ng mga Pamilyang Apektado sa Riles, Kabalikat sa Pagpapaunlad ng Baseco, and non-government organizations namely Community Organization of the Philippine Enterprise, Community Organizers Multiversity and Urban Poor Associates (UPA).
The group wants a halt to forced evictions without relocation and the preparation of adequate relocation sites for those who are evicted.
In a meeting hosted by the President January 31, the government assured urban poor communities that demolitions would no longer be allowed unless there is a relocation site ready for affected families. President Arroyo instructed government agencies that there should be a social preparation period of 45 days for those who will be relocated. She agreed that in-city or near-city relocation sites should be considered a better option than distant relocation. Montalban, for example, which has been suggested by the poor as a relocation site, is willing to accept up to 100,000 urban poor families. An additional P4 billion pesos for socialized housing was also announced.
However, most of what have been promised never materialize, the group said in a letter to the President. “Pagkatapos ng pulong noong ika 31 ng Enero 2008, kami’y nakipag-ugnayan sa mga ahensya ng pamahalaan tulad ng NHA, MMDA, HUDCC, PCUP, DA/PFDA upang maipatupad ang mga napagkasunduan. Masakit pong sabihin, sa aming pagtatasa halos lahat ng mga nabanggit sa itaas ay hindi po naganap.”
According to the eviction monitor done by UPA, for the past 6 months some 2,097 families have lost their homes due to demolitions. Out of the 2,097 families, only 741 families were relocated.
For the security of tenure of some 200,000 families in proclaimed areas, the president must also order for the Post-Proclamation Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR), the group said.
To ensure a low-cost housing, the group suggested that the government must adopt a method introduced by Gawad Kalinga and Habitat for Humanity – sweat equity or bayanihan. A tripartite body composed of government agencies, people’s organizations and parish-based groups will help implement the project. -30-