Monday, August 31, 2009

PRESS STATEMENT NG TASK FORCE ANTI-EVICTION – ARAW NG MGA BAYANI




IKA-31 NG AGOSTO, 2009


Sa panahon na may krisis pang-ekonomiya ang buong mundo, MAKATAONG PAMUMUHAY
PARA SA MARALITA ang tugon. HINDI DEMOLISYON.

Inilabas kailan lamang ang Executive Order 803, isang ehekutibong aksyon na nagtakda ng gampaning papel at gawain ng Metro Manila Inter-Agency Committee (MMIAC). Ang itinakdang namumuno nito ay ang Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA)na ang mandato ay manggiba ng mga bahay ng mga Maralita. Hindi mandato ng MMDA ang magtayo ng disenteng pabahay para sa mga maralita. Mandato ito ng National Housing Authority. May mali sa lipunan natin sa pagtrato sa problema ng panirahanan. Matagal nang isinisigaw ang MAKATAONG PAMUMUHAY PARA SA MARALITA. HINDI DEMOLISYON ANG TUGON SA GUTOM, SA KAWALANG TRABAHO AT SA KAWALANG BAHAY AT LUPA.

Ang E.O. 803 ay taliwas sa kabutihan para sa mga Maralita. Sa representasyon na lamang ng mga Maralita sa MIMIAC na itinakda ng E.O. 803, pakitang-tao lamang ang sinasabi nito. Ang MIMIAC ang magtutukoy ng kinatawan na galing sa Maralita. Bakit ganun? Bakit hindi 50% ng MIMIAC ang boses ng mga Maralita kung para sa mga Maralita nga ang MIMIAC? Kahit na ang manera ng pagdidisisyon sa MIMIAC ay hindi malinaw.

Ang Pasig River ay kadugtong ng ating buhay bilang mga mamamayan at obligasyon nating lahat ang linisin ito. Madumi ito dahil walang maayos na DRAINAGE SYSTEM ANG METRO MANILA. Madumi ito dahil ang mga PABRIKA sa paligid nito ay hindi maayos ang pagtapon ng kanilang dumi. Bakit ang unang iniisip sa paglinis ng Ilog Pasig ay ang paggiba ng mga bahay ng mga Maralita? Kabayanihan ba ito? Kung pupwedeng tumayo sa libingan sina Andres Bonifacio, Jose Rizal, Tandang Sora at iba pang nagmahal ng bayang ito dadagundong ang sigaw na HINDI. HINDI KABAYANIHAN ANG PAGYURAK SA MGA KARAPATANG PANTAO NG MGA MARALITA.

Kamakailan lamang may mga demolisyon sa Quezon City na hindi sumunod sa isinasaad sa walong MANDATORY REQUIREMENTS ng Urban Development and Housing Act (UDHA). At marami ang nakaambang demolisyon sa mga tinatawag ng gobierno na DANGER AREAS. Gigibain ang mga bahay sa danger areas pero walang programa para sa makataong pabahay. Maling mali ang mga nangyayaring ito. Biruin niyo, pagkatapos gibain ang mga bahay ng mga maralita, ang mga bata ay nagtatanong: Saan po ba tayo titira ngayong gabi? Paano po kung umulan dito sa kalsada?

MAKATAONG PABAHAY, HINDI DEMOLISYON. ITO ANG PANAWAGAN NAMIN NGAYON AT BUKAS.

MAGBUO NG MAS MAKA-MARALITA AT MAKATARUNGANG PROGRAMA PARA SA MGA MARALITA. PALITAN ANG NILALAMAN NG E.O. DAHIL HINDI ITO ANG DIWA NG MAKATAONG PABAHAY PARA SA MARALITA.



TASK FORCE ANTI-EVICTION
IKA-31 NG AGOSTO 2009
ARAW NG MGA BAYANI
c/o COMMUNITY ORGANIZERS MULTIVERSITY
No. 18, Marunong STREET, Barangay Central, Quezon City
Tel. No. 9220246; Mobile Phone: (Jessica) 09297406771

Members of urban poor communities mark National Heroes Day

08/31/2009 | 12:44 PM




100 protesters march toward Mendiola to mark National Heroes Day

08/31/2009 | 10:54 AM


Thursday, August 27, 2009

Demolition of Baclaran Mosque during Ramadan Looms




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

Demolition of Baclaran Mosque during Ramadan Looms

28 August 2009. Will they demolish our place of worship during our most holy time?

This was the question raised today by a Muslim group concerning the proposed plan by the local government to demolish their Grand Mosque occupying a reclaimed land in Pasay City.

The said area is reportedly being developed for the establishment of commercial establishments, including casinos.

In a statement, Abdelmanan Tanandato, leader of Samahan ng Nagkakaisang Nademolis sa Roxas Boulevard said the government’s plan to demolish their place of worship even during their holiest time is the height of insensitivity and callousness.

"Clearly, at the rate things are going, they are hell bent in destroying our mosque. Proof of this, they even threatened to do it during Ramadan, the holiest period in the religious lives of the Muslims," Tanandato said.

Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar. It is the Islamic month of fasting, in which participating Muslims refrain from eating, drinking, smoking, and indulging in anything that is in excess or ill-natured; from dawn until dusk.

Tanandato said Sheriff Jeffrey Sales of Parañaque Regional Trial Court (RTC) branch 274 served a Notice to Vacate on August 13, 2009, few days before the start of Ramadan.

Signed by lawyer Roberto Makalintal, Jr., branch clerk, the Parañaque RTC issued the notice to Baclaran-Parañaque City Islamic Cultural Center, Inc. and/or to Nasser D. Ramos and Jalil Moluk and Sultan Sohayle Cosain Tanandato, defendants on the reclamation site in Roxas Boulevard.

The notice stated that "all the adverse occupants are hereby given three (3) days from receipt by virtue of the alias writ of execution dated August 11, 2009 to voluntary vacate and peacefully surrender the premises they are occupying."

The notice also said "failure to vacate, the government will be constrained to use force and effect the said order to the full force and limit provided by law."

Tanandato said they filed a Motion to Quash / Hold in Abeyance the writ of execution at the Parañaque RTC last August 14, 2009. The hearing is set on August 28, 2009 (Friday).

"We appeal to the government to hear and exhaust all the legal venues for us to arrive at an amicable settlement of the issue instead of threatening our community with violence and forced eviction," Tanandato said.

Meanwhile, Imam Abdul Fatah Sarip warned that blood might spill if the government will pursue with its plan to demolish the mosque.

"Muslims brothers and sisters would gladly offer their lives during Ramadan if it is the only way to save their place of worship from utter destruction," Sarip said.

Task Force Anti-Eviction, composed of various people’s organizations and NGOs such as Urban Poor Associates (UPA), Community Organizers Multiversity (COM), and Community Organization of the Philippine Enterprise (COPE) Foundation, have been demanding the government to defer the demolition.

Lawyer Bienvenido Salinas II, legal counsel of UPA, said they are also drafting a house resolution in aid of legislation halting the demolition of the mosque. The said resolution is in partnership with ABA-AKO Party-list Rep. Leonardo Montemayor. -30-

Monday, August 24, 2009

Mar Roxas engages urban poor in Talakayan 2010



Mar Roxas engages urban poor in Talakayan 2010

Written by Ofelia T. Sta. Maria

The Urban Poor Alliance (UP-ALL) Mega Manila held a forum last Saturday, August 9, at the Institute of Social Order (ISO) Social Development Complex at Ateneo de Manila University. Talakayan 2010: Panayam ng mga Maralitang Tagalungsod sa mga Kandidato aims to invite 2010 presidential candidates to present their platforms, programs, and plans for the urban poor sector.

According to Jose Morales of the Uganayang Lakas ng mga Apektadong Pamilya sa Baybaying Ilog Pasig (ULAP), Quezon City UP-ALL, Talakayan 2010 is one of UP-ALL's steps to learn more about the 2010 presidential candiates. The group discussion, he said, is UP-ALL's participation in the upcoming elections.

Instead of presenting his presidential platform for his opening remarks, Sen. Roxas talked about former president Corazon Aquino's life. He told stories about her struggle with her husband Ninoy Aquino's imprisonment and assassination, the EDSA revolution, and her responsibilities as former president under a revolutionary government. He said that prayer and hope are the things that the people need for a better future. "Ang Pilipino, tatayo, titindig, lalaban [The Filipino shall stand up, make a stand, and fight]" he said, adding that what drove him to talk about Cory was her example of honest service to Filipinos. "Taglay niya ang kadakilaan natin [She carries within her our greatness]," he said.

He ended his opening speech by saying his familiar refrain: "Lalaban po tayo [We shall fight]."

Out of all invited guest speakers (Vice President Noli de Castro, Senator Manny Villar, Senator Loren Legarda, Pampanga governor Ed Panlilio, Secretary Gilbert Teodoro, and Isabela governor Grace Padaca), only Senator Mar Roxas was able to attend the forum. According to John Francis Lagman of the UPA, they have not received word from some invited guests.

When asked about his plans for his first 100 days if he is elected president, Roxas said that cabinet members and all those who are going to have positions in government will sign a waiver setting aside bank secrecy. He said that although this is not the answer to graft and corruption, it could be a step towards a more transparent government, unafraid to be questioned or examined.

He used the agriculture sector as an example: if it becomes more productive, people will have easier access to food. He mentioned the importance of education as "the great equalizer," and referred to "pantay, maayos at mabilis na katarungan sa bansa [equal, proper, and swift justice in the country]." Lastly, he stressed the importance of the domestic economy, saying that it should bloom so Filipinos will not always have to rely on other countries.

Roxas also brought up the Cheaper Medicines Law (Republic Act No. 9502) and how, upon signing the Executive Order, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo met with pharmaceutical companies. Roxas said that out of the 21 medicines recommended by the Department of Health, Arroyo only placed five on mandatory price control. "May martilyo para pukpukin ang presyo, bababain [There is a hammer with which to hit prices and make them come down]." He compared this to the issue of housing and the provisions that fall under it.

One of the sector's advocacies is to raise the national budget for social housing to 2 percent (the current budget for housing is 0.5 percent). When Roxas was asked about his support for the budgetary allocation, he admitted that he could give no exact number for the budget. He, however, assures that he will continue to promote the proclamation of government-owned lands for social housing. Regarding Arroyo's feeding program, Roxas said that he is not against it. "Ang nilalabanan ko po, yung pagnanakaw, yung mali na implementation nitong programa [What I am fighting against is theft, the wrong implementation of this program]."

The forum was attended by around 1,000 people composed of UP-ALL Mega Manila from Montalban, Antipolo, Taguig, Caloocan, Makati, Manila, Pasig, Malabon, Muntinlupa, and Quezon City.


http://www.thepoc.net/index.php/10-for-2010/10-for-2010-News/Mar-Roxas-engages-urban-poor-in-Talakayan.html

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Demolition of Mosque a Ticking Time Bomb Says Archbishop Cruz



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

Demolition of Mosque a Ticking Time Bomb Says Archbishop Cruz

13 August 2009. The government’s plan to demolish a Mosque is a ticking time bomb, a high-ranking Catholic bishop said in reaction to reports that the Grand Mosque located in Pasay City will be demolished this month to make way for commercial establishments including casinos.

In a statement, Dagupan-Lingayen Archbishop Oscar Cruz said, “The demolition of the mosque is a ticking time bomb because it will cascade into a mishmash of complicated and sensitive religious, cultural and social issues.”

“Destroying a religious symbol in place of a symbol of vice and greed is the height of arrogance and brazenness. It is a violation of Christian and Muslim religious tradition and beliefs,” said Archbishop Cruz, also a known anti-gambling crusader.

According to Islamic law, it is forbidden to destroy houses of worships, including Christian Churches.

“We told the government that we will not leave the mosque. If declaring holy war is the only way to preserve our mosque, we will do it,” said Abdelmanan Tanandato, president of Samahan ng Nagkakaisang Nademolis sa Roxas Boulevard.

Imam Abdul Fatah Sarip said, “If we die during Ramadan for defending our holy mosque, it means we will be rewarded twice by Allah. This gives us more courage to fight for our place of worship even it means our death. Unless the government heeds our call, blood may possibly flow on this disputed land.”

In a May 26 memorandum to Philippine Recalamation Authority, Department of Public Works and Highways, Department of Transportation and Communications and Office of Muslim Affairs, Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita informed government agencies of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s instruction to relocate the entire Mosque structure to a proposed relocation site adjacent to the Coastal Road. The memorandum said the reclaimed land must be cleared to give way to Southwest Public Transport Intermodal Center (Metrotrans).

However, it was reported to Muslim residents that the land, where the Muslim community and mosque are situated, is very valuable and destined for commerce, luxury housing and casinos.

The Task Force Anti-Eviction composed of various people’s organizations and NGOs such as the Urban Poor Associates (UPA), Community Organizers Multiversity (COM) and Community Organization of the Philippine Enterprise (COPE) Foundation said Ramadan is only eight days away and yet the government is ignoring the plea of the Muslim community, civil society organizations and international human rights group to stop its plan to demolish the mosque.

“Evictions are a common problem between government and urban poor people. However, in this particular case, the issue has become complicated as it is in direct conflict with the Muslim community’s religious and cultural beliefs,” said Ted Añana, deputy coordinator of UPA.

“The least that the government can do is to spare this mosque from forced eviction. The government should be reasonable, judicious, and considerate in resolving the problem since this issue or the kind of action to be taken is very sensitive in view of its religious, social, cultural, legal and political ramifications that will certainly have long lasting national and international consequences,” Añana added.

Archbishop Cruz agreed. “Considering the anger and disgust of many Filipino Christians towards the ruling administration, the last thing it needs is the ire and hatred of Filipino Muslims,” Cruz concluded.

Some 14 demolition incidents were monitored in 2008 which affected 2,411 families, according to the UPA. The anti-eviction group is lobbying for the House Bill No. 6675 filed by Aba-Ako Party-List Rep. Leonardo Montemayor. The bill is entitled to “An act securing the rights of urban poor beneficiaries to proper housing amending for the purpose Republic Act 7279 otherwise known as Urban Development and Housing Act (UDHA).” It seeks to amend several sections of UDHA to strengthen the protected right of every Filipino to a decent home, and provide sanctions upon those who violate the mandate of the law.

-30-

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Is the President Lying?




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

Is the President Lying?

12 August 2009. Urban poor leaders said, “The President is lying. The 300 million pesos she promised to us last August 1, 2008 for the development of relocation site in Montalban for thousands of urban poor families affected by demolitions and forced evictions does not exist.”

The urban poor leaders who headed the big protest rally yesterday morning at the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC) had a confrontation with Usec. Lucille Ortille, the Secretary General of HUDCC at 2 pm in her office.

The leaders asked her where was the 300 million promised by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo?

According to Usec. Ortille, there was no budget yet for the relocation site in Montalban because the 300 million is not stipulated in the Executive Order 803.

Executive Order No. 803 or the Metro Manila Inter-Agency Committee (MMIAC) is a comprehensive shelter program for informal settlers affected by the government’s infrastructure projects and those living in dangerous areas.

In that EO it says: “ The MMDA is hereby directed to set up a trust fund, wherein funds sourced from the office of the President, National Government Agencies, LGUs..(will be held).”

In short, there is no trust fund yet.

“We wasted a year waiting for the 300 million to be released,” said Prescilda Juanich, leader of SAPIPA R-10 Navotas City. “I remember in the meeting with the president August 1 last year she gave directives to government agencies to relocate in Montalban the 1400 families from the 11 priority areas evicted by the MMDA. I adore her so much. But now, I have lost all my respect to her,” she added.

“MMDA destroyed our houses without hesitation and now we are living in the streets. Our only hope was the promise of the president that we will be relocated. But we were dismayed that it was just a big lie,” said Rosalinda Saturno, leader of Samahang Nayon ng Balintawak QC.

Task Force Anti-Eviction (TFAE), composed of various people’s organizations and NGOs such as Urban Poor Associates (UPA), Community Organizers Multiversity (COM), and Community Organization of the Philippine Enterprise(COPE)Foundation, thinks that the President promised the 300 million to pacify the urban poor complaints and soften resistance against demolitions and force evictions.

Jun Alferez, representative of (TFAE) who was in the confrontation said, “The president will expect the urban poor to mobilize in a bigger number to get the 300 million she promised for the housing of thousand families.”

-30-

Monday, August 10, 2009

Evicted urban poor settlers picket HUDCC office




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

Evicted urban poor settlers picket HUDCC office

11 August 2009 (Tuesday). Some 300 people picketed the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC) this morning to protest the government agency’s inaction in providing relocation to thousands of urban poor families affected by demolitions and forced evictions. President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo promised the people August 1 last year she would relocate them to Rodriguez (Montalban).

Singing songs of protest, the demonstrators gathered at the Ninoy Aquino monument at the corner of Ayala Avenue and Paseo de Roxas. Some of them had boxes shaped like houses on their heads that they said symbolize their right to shelter. Beginning at 9:00 AM the group marched toward the HUDCC office at the Banco de Oro building.

Carrying banners bearing “Where is the relocation? Are you listening Mr. Vice President?” they called the attention of Vice President Noli de Castro, concurrent HUDCC Chair, to address the problem of the evicted families and the president’s promise.

Members of Task Force Anti-Eviction, composed of people’s groups and non-government organizations such as Urban Poor Associates (UPA), Community Organizers Multiversity (COM) and Community Organization of the Philippine Enterprise (COPE), met President Arroyo twice last year to ask the government to stop forced evictions and provide adequate relocation. During the August 1 meeting in Malacañang President Arroyo ordered various government agencies including HUDCC to develop the Montalban relocation site with an initial budget of 300 million pesos for 1,500 families evicted and left in the streets.

“Nothing has happened since the meeting. Urban poor communities are constantly threatened with forced evictions without adequate relocation. Evicted families have been living on sidewalks exposed to the elements of heat and rain. What happened to the money and the relocation? What happened to the promise of the president?” the people asked.

According to the UPA annual demolition monitor, some 14 demolition incidents were monitored in 2008 which affected 2,411 families. In the cases monitored, the Urban Development and Housing Act (UDHA) requirements on 30-day notice, consultations and provision of relocation were largely ignored. “Only 741 families or 30.73% were relocated. Some 353 families, including children, women and elderly, were victims of repeated demolition operations,” said lawyer Ritche Esponilla of UPA.

“Every time flashfloods occur in Metro Manila, authorities are quick in pointing fingers to informal settlers as culprit even though the real problem is a city wide poor drainage system, graft and corruption among others. The prompt solution is demolition and forced eviction. The government failed to provide relocation which can be paid through monthly amortization. Without relocation, evicted families rebuild their shanties. This is clearly a waste of time and effort on the part of the government. You cannot expect different results by doing the same action all over again,” Atty. Esponilla pointed out. “It is a sign of insanity,” he said.

In a letter, leaders of people’s organizations asked the Vice President for help. “We believe that as Vice President and HUDCC Chair, you can help the release of initial budget of the Montalban relocation. We are hoping that the budget will be released at the soonest possible time. Please don’t fail us. You are our last hope,” the letter read.

-30-

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Urban poor group to picket HUDCC office




Attention: News Editor, News Desk, Reporters and Photojournalists

MEDIA ADVISORY

Urban poor group to picket HUDCC office

Some 300 urban poor people will converge at the Ninoy Aquino monument (Ayala Avenue corner Paseo de Roxas) in Makati City on Tuesday morning and beginning at 9:00 AM they will march toward the office of the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC) located at the Banco de Oro Building (Paseo de Roxas corner Makati Avenue) to protest the government agency’s inaction in providing relocation to urban poor families affected by demolitions and forced evictions.

Members of the Task Force Anti-Eviction met President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in August 1 last year and she ordered various government agencies including HUDCC to develop the Montalban relocation site with an initial budget of 300 million pesos. Nothing has happened since. People will ask HUDCC, what happened to the money and the relocation?

Urban poor communities are constantly threatened with forced evictions. Evicted families have been living on sidewalks exposed to the elements of heat and rain. What happened to the promise of the president?

Photo ops: Demonstrators will wear colorful boxes shaped like houses on their heads which symbolize their right to shelter. Songs of protest. Giant slide show.

Date: August 11, 2009 (Tuesday)

Time: 9:00 AM

Assembly Point: Ninoy Aquino monument, Ayala Avenue corner Paseo de Roxas

Government’s Plan to Tear Down Mosque Provokes Muslims to Fight




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

Government’s Plan to Tear Down Mosque Provokes Muslims to Fight

08 August 2009. Muslims living near a mosque in Baclaran, Pasay City said they will turn their community into a war zone if the government pushes through with its plan to demolish the mosque to give way for commercial establishments, including casinos.

“Kapag may nasaktan na bata, matanda, at babae, lalaban kami ng patayan,” (If there are children, elderly and women hurt in the demolition, we will fight them to the death) said Abdelmanan Tanandato, leader of Samahan ng Nagkakaisang Nademolis sa Roxas Boulevard.

Tanandato was informed that the muslim community and mosque will be demolished on the first week of August. The plan was later moved to Monday (August 10) “perhaps due to the typhoon and the death of the former President Cory Aquino”.

He said the community is prepared to face the demolition team and they will form a human barricade around the mosque to protect it.

The Task Force Anti-Eviction composed of various people’s organizations and NGOs such as Urban Poor Associates (UPA), Community Organizers Multiversity (COM), and Community Organization of the Philippine Enterprise Foundation (COPE) have asked the government to defer the demolition. “The government should reflect on its plan to pursue the demolition of the mosque now that Ramadan is approaching,” the group said.

Muslims believe that a person is twice saved if he or she dies during Ramadan defending Islam.

“The Muslim people believe it is God’s will that they defend the mosque. The government should allow the Mosque to stay, let it remain amid the infrastructure projects that will be built,” said Ted Añana, deputy coordinator of UPA.

Congressman Leandro Montemayor yesterday sent a letter to Ms. Andrea Domingo, General Manager of Philippine Reclamation Authority (PRA) to inquire about their position regarding the occupancy status of muslims over this reclaimed property. The objective is to arrive at a peaceful and amicable solution to the problem.

The letter requests PRA to defer the eviction of the Muslim community especially in the light of pending cases at the Pasay City Regional Trial Court and the City Ordinance No. 4411 / moratorium on demolitions.

An international human rights organization based in Geneva, Switzerland, the Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions (COHRE), also shared their concern about the imminent forced eviction of the Baclaran mosque community. They visited the community in 2007 and have followed the case closely since then.

“COHRE has already raised this case with the government of the Philippines and at the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, and will again be writing to the relevant Philippine authorities in order to urge them to respect their obligations under international human rights law,” said Dan Nicholson, Asia Pacific programme coordinator of COHRE. -30-

‘Aquino made it look easy to be good’



UCAN Commentary by Denis Murphy

August 7, 2009

MANILA (UCAN) -- Calling Corazon Aquino a “female Saint Thomas More” and the “Joan of Arc of the Philippines,” Catholics here have publicly thrown their support behind a suggestion to work for the late Philippine president’s canonization.

For Denis Murphy, coordinator of the NGO, Urban Poor Associates, this is understandable. He says her cause for canonization is being discussed as she was "very religious."

Though the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines has publicly cautioned that the Church imposes strict conditions in the canonization process, Murphy, in a commentary for UCA News, makes clear the case for Aquino has merits.

The former Jesuit priest and longtime social worker in the Philippines recalls experiences with Aquino that showed she cared for people and tried to help them as much as she could. She led the 1986 "people power" revolt that ousted dictator Ferdinand Marcos.

During her presidential campaign, Murphy was serving as editor of a Church news agency. Later in her presidency, which lasted 1986-1992, he devoted his time to working for the rights of city dwellers to decent housing.

Following are his reflections on Aquino’s life:


Aquino died in hospital on Aug. 1 after battling colon cancer.

Thick crowds, 30 meters deep in places, lined the roads leading from Manila Cathedral to the burial site 22 kilometers away in Paranaque. Most people cried as the giant float, with Mrs. Aquino’s casket on top of a huge bed of yellow flowers passed by.

Women shrieked in sorrow as if their own mothers were dead. The rains poured down through the journey, but the crowds got bigger. At one point, firemen saluted the former president by shooting streams of water in the air. The water fell, of course, on the people at the roadside, but no one seemed to notice.

As late as 4 a.m. the night before, near riots threatened outside the cathedral as people pressed to get in to see her one more time.

People had stood in line for up to 10 hours. Along the road to the cemetery there was a man who sat on a wall for 12 hours straight waving a flag, waiting for the cortege to pass by.

It is almost impossible to exaggerate the hold Mrs. Aquino has on the Filipino people and it is natural that people are abuzz with the idea that this former Philippine president should be made a saint.

Perhaps the explanation is that, since all national heroes and heroines reflect the better characteristics of their people, Filipinos see their better selves reflected in the former president more than in anyone else.

What have they seen in Cory Aquino? What is it they wish to see in themselves?

At the necrological service the night before the burial, 19 Filipino men and women, some well known, some not, told a packed cathedral what struck them most about her.

The quality mentioned most often by her close women friends was her never ending thoughtfulness. She never forgot a friend’s birthday or a friend’s problem. She would show up unexpectedly at wakes and stay an hour or so. She had a kind word for everyone. She treated everyone with respect, including her bodyguards, drivers, maids and cooks. It might be hard to believe anyone was so nice but the stories told were so many it seems she really was that good and thoughtful.

She was thoroughly honest. No one in this back biting, overly critical country has ever said she took a single centavo from the Philippine treasury that she hadn’t earned. When she promised something, she kept her word and she never gave up. A sister-in-law told of Cory and herself waiting hours to see rude Marcos officials, sometimes waiting in the rain to ask a small favor for Aquino’s husband who was in jail. She never complained.

She was queenly. This was the aspect of Cory seen by some of the very macho men who worked with her. Former President Fidel Ramos, Mayor Alfredo Lim of Manila, Mayor Jejomar Binay of Makati, Congressman Teddy Locsin, Jr., journalist and former Aquino spokesperson, among them. Locsin put it in words at the necrological service, “She was my queen,” he said, “and I was her knight, her servant. She made me better just by being good herself.”

The poor loved her too. It wasn’t that she did great things for them, but rather that they thought she cared for them. It is the poor women who called out in sorrow along the roadside of her final journey. When things were not going well during Cory’s years in office, the poor always said, “Give her a chance, give her a chance.”

I remember one meeting that the urban poor had with her. They came to complain of several cruel evictions. In one, the police had released vicious dogs into the slum area in the early morning hours. Women told Cory how terrified they were when the dogs broke into their homes. The women cried. Cory cried. Everyone cried, even her military attache. Cory apologized and said it would never happen again.

The dogs were never repeated, but evictions went on. Possibly she could have done more if she had been more experienced in handling a huge bureaucracy.

Cory loved gossip as much as anyone. I remember watching her with a group of friends at a wedding anniversary. She would lean into the circle to make sure she heard every detail, then burst out laughing, then add her own comment on the person they were talking about, then they all laughed again and started over. You would never guess this was a woman who overthrew a dictator, rescued a people from despair, wowed a joint session of the U.S. Congress, inspired a generation and became “the beacon of democracy in Asia.”

Her cause for canonization is now being discussed. Is it possible a saint could enjoy gentle gossip?

Archbishop Ramon Arguelles (of Lipa) likened her to Thomas More and someone during the wake called her the Joan of Arc of the Philippines. I can understand it. I’ve never heard people talk so unanimously about a person’s thoughtfulness, generosity and all those virtues. She was president of the Philippines. She did not have to be all that.

She made it look easy to be good, her friends said. And she was good in the ways her people valued. She was thoughtful, kind, loyal, honest, very religious, just as everyone here wants to be. Loving her, they were loving the ideals their parents had put in them when they were children.

She was so good to others, so confident and buoyant, it was easy to forget she was a widow who had loved her husband dearly and always felt a deep emptiness in her heart because he was gone.

I interviewed her once for UCAN back in 1987. It was the end of the day and she was very tired. At the end, I asked if she could pose with my wife and me for a picture. “I sent the photographer home early, but wait,” she said. Soon she had her staff people running all over for a camera, while she talked about her days in Boston when Ninoy (her husband) was released from jail and allowed to go to the United States for a heart operation. In the end the staff couldn’t find a camera and she was very apologetic. “Next time we meet,” she said. I wish I had that picture now.

Paalam (good bye), Cory.

Copyright © UCA News. All rights reserved.

http://www.ucanews.com/2009/08/07/%E2%80%98aquino-made-it-look-easy-to-be-good%E2%80%99/

Friday, August 07, 2009

Talakayan 2010 - Presidential Candidates Forum

Dear friends,


On Sunday, August 9, Urban Poor Alliance (UP-ALL) Mega Manila will hold a forum dubbed "Talakayan 2010" in which some of the candidates vying for the presidency in the coming elections are invited to present their plans and programs for the urban poor sector.

This is in preparation for UP-ALL Mega Manila's scorecard activity. The venue will be at the Walter Hogan Hall, Institute of Social Order (ISO), Social Development Complex, Ateneo de Manila University, and will start at 9:00 A.M.

Non-government organizations such as FDA, FDUP, PASCRES, COM, UPA and ULRTF committed to mobilize at least 600 people.

So far only Sen. Mar Roxas has confirmed his attendance in the forum. We invited a few others-- VP Noli de Castro, Sen. Manny Villar, Sec. Gilbert Teodoro, Gov. Grace Padaca, Gov. Ed Panlilio and Sen. Loren Legarda. The camps of VP de Castro and Sen. Villar have expressed their regrets, while we are still awaiting response from Gov. Padaca. We haven't received any word from the others.

For your information.

Thank you.


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Talakayan 2010:
Panayam ng mga Maralitang Tagalungsod sa mga Kandidato
Conference Room 5 and 6, Walter Hogan Hall, Institute of Social Order
Social Development Complex, Ateneo de Manila University
August 9, 2009
10am – 12nn



Programa


9:00 -10:00
Registration


10:00 -10:15
Pambungad
Jose Morales
Uganayang Lakas ng mga Apektadong Pamilya sa Baybaying Ilog Pasig (ULAP),
Quezon City UP-ALL


10:15 -10:30
Pagpapakilala sa mga dumalo
Cipriano M. Fampulme
Luzon CMP PO Network
Quezon City UP-ALL


10:30 -10:50
Pagpapakilala ng mga Kandidato
(Bibigyan ng oras ang mga kandidato na ipakilala ang sarili, ang kanilang plataporma at mga plano para sa maralitang tagalungsod)


10:50 -11:45
Panayam at Open Forum
Dr. Anna Marie A. Karaos
Associate Director
John J. Carroll Institute on Church and Social Issues (JJCICSI)


11:45 -12:00
Pangwakas
Vangie Serrano
Resettlement Action Group
UP-ALL Montalban