Wednesday, October 28, 2009


Urban poor people are blamed for the floods caused by typhoon Ondoy (Ketsana). Government officials demand they be prohibited from moving back to their homes along the rivers and esteros. The president has said that in the makeover of Metro Manila we must “rid the city” of informal settlers as if they were vermin.

There is no scientific basis proposed for such violent actions. Loggers in the Sierra Madre and developers may be more guilty. We may evict 80,000 families from the waterways at great expense and suffering only to find in 20 years the floods are back and stronger than ever. There must be a rock solid scientific reason to disrupt the lives of 400,000 persons.

Riverbank and lakeside dwellers will not insist on returning to their homes if they are offered in-city relocation near their jobs and the children’s schools.

The poor were affected that fateful Saturday (Sept. 26)just as the middle-class people. Unlike the middle-class, however, the poor had no place to go except back to their homes by the waterways.

Distant relocation is not the answer as there are usually no jobs available in the far away sites. Jobs are basic: without regular income the people will be hungry and soon return.

Let us move into 21st century thinking by making Metro Manila and our other cities inclusive ones that integrate the urban poor into their midst rather than force them into illegality on degraded sites. These diminish their humanity and serve as constant reminders of social injustices perpetuated by “the only Christian country in Asia.”

We call for a serious examination of the causes of the floods. Can it not be done by the Senate? What, if any, was the role of the poor? Who is really to blame?

We call for both public and idle private land near the riverbanks to be identified and set aside for riverbank and lakeside settlement, negotiated by government for temporary social housing use until it can identify and prepare permanent social housing sites for them in the city. We believe, however, on-site upgrading is the best solution.

We also call for a serious re-examination of our current unjust and inefficient land use patterns and a serious look at the implications of urbanization for all Filipinos, especially the poorer citizenry.

It is time to initiate humane and effective approaches that will enable our urban poor workforce to remain in the city, enjoy their rights as Filipino citizens, and help realize a vibrant, competitive, humane and inclusive Asian city.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


Attention: News Editor, News Desk, Reporters and Photojournalists



As the country moves to repair the damage brought by tropical storm ‘Ondoy’, we hear what the government and professionals think should be done. However, we really don’t know what the people most affected namely the urban poor, think and feel. Without their cooperation a good solution is not possible.

We are organizing a forum on Oct. 28 (Wednesday), 4:00-6:00PM, at the Ateneo de Manila University to hear the thoughts of urban poor people.

People attending will include journalists, religious superiors, academic leaders, NGO workers, government officials and poor people.

We have also invited CHR Chairperson Leila de Lima, Sr. Aida Velasquez OSB, Teodoro Katigbak, Mary Racelis, Conrado de Quiros, Florencio Abad and Naga City Mayor Jesse Robredo to dialog with the poor people about one another’s solutions and analyses.

There will be an open forum and an effort to come up with some key resolutions which can be presented to government and civil society groups. These can be discussed further with the people and finally presented to media.

By the end of the afternoon we may know a little bit better what are the best solutions and be able to move further along in implementing them. We hope you can attend.

Date: October 28, 2009 (Wednesday) / 4:00-6:00PM

Venue: Conference Hall, Social Development Complex, Ateneo de Manila University, Katipunan Avenue, Loyola Heights, Quezon City

Friday, October 23, 2009


Attention: News Editor, News Desk, Reporters and Photojournalists


Baseco Inter-Agency Network
27 October 2009 / Tuesday
Baseco Compound, Brgy. 649, Zone 68, Port Area, Manila


6:30-7:00 Assembly for the Parade

7:00-8:45 Parade

8:45-9:00 Snacks and Preparation for the Program

9:00-9:10 Invocation - Open Heart Foundation

9:10-9:15 National Anthem - World Vision Development Foundation

9:15-9:25 Welcome Remarks - Hon. Kristo Hispano, Brgy. Chairman

9:25-9:35 Special Message - Mr. Emmanuel Soriano, Principal

9:35-9:45 Special Message from a Child - Mark Lunchael Gadi, Lingap Pangkabataan

9:45-9:55 Intermission Number - WMC-CARE

9:55-10:25 Recognition of Outstanding Parents/Volunteers

10:25-10:35 Commitment Signing - Ms Lani Cantilang
Directress- WMC-CARE
10:35-11:25 Cheering Competition / Face Painting

11:25-11:30 Awarding of Winners

☼ World Mission Community – CARE ☼ Hope Worldwide Philippines ☼ Open Heart Foundation / Buklod ☼ Lingap Pangkabataan Foundation ☼ Manila Department of Social Welfare ☼ Kabalikat sa Pagpapaunlad ng Baseco ☼ World Vision Development Foundation ☼ Baseco Elementary School ☼ Barangay Council ☼

Monday, October 19, 2009

A Pinoy ‘New Deal’

Inquirer Opinion / Columns

Commentary : A Pinoy ‘New Deal’

By Denis Murphy
Philippine Daily Inquirer

Posted date: October 18, 2009

MANILA, Philippines-In the days after Ted Kennedy's death, when people discussed his role in American political history, the name of Franklin Delano Roosevelt often arose. At first it was just talk, comparing him and Kennedy, but then by some strange providence of the Lord, the man himself came back from the shadows of history. He was seen in Washington, D.C. being pushed about in his wheelchair. The former US president, father of the New Deal program that saved America’s poor in the Great Depression of the 1930s and polio victim, was back from the grave for a brief while. He seemed to enjoy every minute of his return.

He met with President Barack Obama in the White House and with Ted Kennedy’s family. Kennedy was often called “The last of the New Deal Democrats,” that is, those Democrats who worked in season and out of season almost exclusively for the poor.

Then Roosevelt surprised everyone by asking to meet with the candidates for the Philippine presidency. I was in Washington, so I was asked to help gather the candidates. We met in the Philippine Embassy in Washington. There were eight candidates, seven men and a woman. We sat in a semi-circle around his wheelchair.

I told the candidates the little I knew of the former president and his New Deal: When he entered the White House in 1933, some 30 percent of American workers were unemployed; thousands of small farms were foreclosed monthly; unions were beaten down and ineffective; and Wall Street reeled out of control. Roosevelt turned this situation upside down. He started Social Security for the old and handicapped, strengthened labor unions, saved the small farms, created jobs, controlled the banks and financiers, and effectively restored the American people’s faith in their country.

What I didn’t tell the candidates because I didn’t know how the old president would react was that critics say he brought class struggle between the rich and the poor into American politics. He said he was simply restoring justice.

“Yes,” said Roosevelt, when I finished, “and anyone of you can do the same for the Philippines and even more. I know something about the Philippines. I signed the law that created the Commonwealth. I oversaw MacArthur’s return. It wasn’t all his doing, was it? But you know all that history better than I do, so let’s talk instead of what may be more relevant, namely, our program of government in the 1930s that came to be called the ‘New Deal,’ and its usefulness in today’s Philippines. What was it, or better, what is it, since ideas are timeless? The New Deal comes down to this: we gather state power for the benefit of all citizens, but especially for the poor and handicapped. I think the Philippines needs something very much like it.”

I could see he was enjoying himself. “I have a test,” he told them, “that will help me judge who among you is most likely to introduce a New Deal-type program in your country. I’m looking for someone who is clever, passionate for the poor and lucky. I’m dead, but I can still help that person and I will. Here is the test.”

He told us there was going to be a great flood in Manila in a month or so. Hundreds of thousands would be affected. The poor living along the waterways would be blamed for the flooding and many would be banished. The rich—government officials, developers and loggers—who really did the damage would not be touched. There would be widespread hunger. Then he asked, “What will you do as a candidate when this flood occurs?”

The candidates took a few minutes to think and then one after another they told him what they would do. Roosevelt listened and at the end said, “I’m disappointed. I don’t see anything like a New Deal political analysis in your thinking. For example, who’s to blame for the floods? The poor or the rich and powerful? Don’t let them blame the poor. Blame the rich and let the poor know you are on their side in the controversy, and will be on their side as president.”

The candidates were taken aback by his criticism. “Well, what would you do?” one of them asked.

He answered, “Do you agree nothing will change unless the Philippines gets a government that acknowledges its existence to the 60-70 percent of the voters who are poor and near poor, and makes them its special and favored constituency?”

The candidates nodded in agreement. Roosevelt was happy now that he had his audience agreeing. He put a cigarette in his long black cigarette holder and lit it. Strange, though, we couldn’t smell the smoke. He went on: “In the case of the floods, I would go to the affected people and ask them what they want me and my partymates to do for them in the flood crisis. When they tell us what they want, I’d go and do it, at least, I’d try. I’d fight government efforts to evict the squatters. I’d be in the courts and in the front lines when the police came to evict them. I’d picket with the poor outside the grain bodegas if there were no food.”

He said, “Some will accuse you of electioneering, but the poor won’t and their allegiance is all you need. You must, however, be sincere. The poor will spot faking.

“I’d make sure the poor people are aware that I know what their problems are and that I really care what happens to them. In the meantime before the election, I’d spend my money to bring in earth-moving equipment to clean up the city streets and to remove the mud from the homes. I’d buy new clothes for the children and the women. The men, too, of course, but women and children first. I’d work alongside the men in the mud. I’d treat the poor women as the saints they are. We are in a democracy in the Philippines and in a democracy the majority rules, but it must be aware of its power and take advantage of that power. In democracies reform comes through the ballots of the poor.”

The candidates were writing everything down feverishly.

Denis Murphy works with the Urban Poor Associates. His e-mail address is

©Copyright 2001-2009, An Inquirer Company

Thursday, October 15, 2009


SHELTER FROM HARM A girl whiles away the hours playing in front of her house in Bagong Silangan, Q.C. on Oct. 4.


Typhoon Ondoy no sooner began to subside than government once again blamed the poor families - - estimated to number about 80,000 families (400,000 men, women and mostly children) - - for the unprecedented flooding.

The government has prohibited these poor families from returning to their homes from the evacuation centers. Housing officials talk publicly about evicting all 80,000 families and relocating them outside the city, far from jobs and basic services.

These government actions are based on the belief that the poor caused the floods by blocking the esteros and rivers. Luckily there were other explanations for the flooding. Architects, geologists and urban planners reminded us that the causes of the floods were much more complex. Cabinet and city officials connived with developers to violate sensible planning rules. Others logged and quarried in the mountains around Metro Manila. Climate change played a role. Guilty, too, are those city officials who ignored the instructions of the Urban Development and Housing Act (UDHA) of 1992 that each city should set aside land for social housing. If that had been done 17 years ago, there would be fewer families on the rivers and esteros.

The poor are partially to blame, but there is a huge difference between the poor, the officials and developers. The latter violate the law for gain, motivated by greed. The poor live on the shabby waterways because they have too. They are there to survive and would gladly move to a relocation center in the city where they could get back and forth to their jobs. They are not necessarily opposed to relocation but to evictions and relocation that are inhuman and violate the Constitution, the country’s international covenants and laws.

We ask for two things. First, let government establish an independent board of inquiry to look into the basic causes of the flooding. We will then know who the main violators of the common good are. The study can examine also the possibilities of in-city relocation for the poor on the waterways.

Secondly, we ask government not to evict poor people until we have an explanation of what really went wrong and fully prepared and discussed plans.

The urban poor will resist evictions and relocation that violate the law and further impoverish them.

If government will not make such an inquiry, the urban poor will do so to the best of their ability.

Do not make the poor the scapegoat for the greed of the wealthy and powerful. We see poor people walking the streets looking for rice for their families. Don’t add to their suffering.

The urban poor extend their compassion to all who suffered in Ondoy, especially to the families of those who died trying to help others. May God take care of all of us.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Urban Poor Mother, Son Killed


Urban Poor Mother, Son Killed

Quezon City, 13 October 2009. Maria Myrna Porcare, a vocal leader of Samahan ng Magkakapitbahay sa Pechayan (SAMASAPE), and his son Jimyr Porcare were shot dead by the land owner-hired security guards on October 9, 2009, Friday afternoon over a disputed piece of property in Pechayan, Brgy. North Fairview, a community near Tullahan River.

According to witnesses, the victim was just trying to stop the guards from fencing the area because they were already going beyond what was stated in the court order. The 2.4 hectare Pechayan is home for more than 1,000 informal settler families for about 20 years. The revival of eviction case against a certain Domingo couple at the Metropolitam Trial Court Branch 38 of Quezon City sustained Melecio Lavares’ claim over a portion of land. The land owner was able to secure a writ of execution against Domingo.

However, the guards adamantly continued fencing the entire 2.4 hectares of land which was beyond the court’s order. Thus, settlers resisted. Porcare was killed by a shotgun blast in the stomach. Her son came to rescue his mother but he was also shot dead in the thorax. Carrying shotguns, some 15 security guards are present at the crime scene.

Suspects were charged two counts of homicide with the help of Urban Poor Associates (UPA), a housing rights NGO. The suspects were detained at the Crime Investigation Detection Unit of Camp Karingal on Oct. 9.

Lawyer Ritche Esponilla, UPA legal counsel, said, “We will never tire ourselves prosecuting the two suspects to make sure that justice will be served to the mother and son who were unlawfully killed for fighting over their shelter rights.”

“We are likewise weighing all legal possibilities if we can file charges against the land claimant, the security agency and even against the sheriff for failing to properly supervise the execution of the issued writ which led to this very unfortunate incident,” he added.

Father Robert Reyes, also known as the running priest, in a mass this morning emphasized the greatness of the mother and son who died protecting their rights as a citizen of this country. “The mother died protecting her family’s right to housing and as a consequence her son also died protecting his mother’s right to live. They are heroes of urban poor,” he told residents during the homily.

“The rights of the poor diminished all of a sudden because of the government’s negligence to its duty to serve and protect. But we should not lose hope and instead justice should be served to Myrna and Jimyr’s death by continuing our fight for decent housing,” the Catholic priest added

Task Force Anti-Eviction composed of various people’s organizations and NGOs such as UPA, Community Organizers Multiversity (COM) and Community Organization of the Philippine Enterprise (COPE) Foundation condemn the killing.

The group urges the government to act “with expediency to resolve this crime and to investigate the conduct of demolitions and evictions, may it involve government or private land.” -30-

Maria Myrna Porcare - 42-year-old

Jimyr Porcare - 18-year-old

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Media Advisory - Launching of KAYAKo

Attention: News Editor, News Desk, Reporters and Photojournalists


Launching of KAYAKo

Father Robert Reyes, also known as the running priest, invites you at the launching of Kalikasan Kabuhayan Katarungan ora mismo (KAYAKo) tomorrow (Oct. 12 / Monday) beginning at 8:00 AM at the Marikina City riverbanks adjacent to Marcos Highway.

Father Reyes will be rowing along Marikina River using a kayak, a small human-powered boat, to pray and support the urban poor particularly the thousands of families threatened with forced evictions due to the recent flash floods brought about by typhoon Ondoy.

There will be a signature campaign for the causes of KAYAKo. At 10:00 AM there will be a press conference at Treehouse, Matalino Street in Quezon City.

The Catholic priest will be rowing around Laguna Lake the following weeks to spearhead series of causes including care for environment, relief operations for flood victims, fisherfolk issues, disaster preparedness, urban land reform, among others.

Supporting this initiative are groups such as Community Organizers Multiversity (COM), Kubol Pag-asa, Urban Poor Associates (UPA), Bulgar, Mamamayan para sa Pagpapaunlad at Pagpapanatili ng Lawa (MAPAGPALA), and the Philippine Dragonboat Team.

Date: October 12, 2009 (Monday)

Time/Venue: 8:00 AM – Marikina City riverbanks

Time/Venue: 10:00 AM - Treehouse, Matalino Street, Q.C.


Kalikasan Kabuhayan Katarungan ora mismo (KAYAKo)

Kaya kong ipagtanggol ang kalikasan.

Kaya kong mabuhay na may dignidad.

Kaya kong ipagtanggol ang karapatang pantao.

Kaya kong lumaya sa pagkakaapi.

Kaya kong linisin ang kapaligiran.

Kaya kong itaguyod ang pagbabago.

Kaya kong paunlarin ang ating bayan.

Kaya kong ipaglaban at harapin ang katarungan.

Kaya kong mabuhay para sa bayan.

Kaya kong ipaglaban ang aking karapatang manirahan sa kalunsuran.

Kaya kong pigilan ang pagwasak sa kalikasan.

Kaya kong baguhin ang maling kaugalian.

Kaya kong gawin ito, ora mismo!

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Urban Poor Asks Supreme Court to Convene Advisory Committee on Manila Bay Clean Up


Urban Poor Asks Supreme Court to Convene Advisory Committee on Manila Bay Clean Up

08 October 2009. Eight months after the creation of the advisory committee that will oversee the Manila Bay clean up, the Urban Poor Associates (UPA) filed before the Supreme Court today a motion to convene the advisory committee and to submit report if no laws are violated or will be violated as well as other human and shelter rights by the concerned government agencies implementing the court’s decision to clean up Manila Bay.

The creation of the advisory committee came following the filing of a motion for clarification by the said group and the informal settlers who cried foul over the demolition of their houses without prior notice by the personnel of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA), supposedly in line with the ruling of the court issued on December 18, 2008 concerning the Manila Bay cleanup.

In a nine-page motion, the urban poor group through their lawyer, Ritche Esponilla, stressed that the urgency in convening the advisory committee is to come out with its official report. The report is to concern whether or not the various implementing government agencies follow the relevant laws or not particularly R.A 7279 or the Act providing for the Comprehensive and Continuing Urban Development and Housing Program.

UPA said 70,000 urban poor families surrounding Manila Bay are in danger of being demolished without due relocation. Earlier this year, it was also reported that unannounced and illegal demolitions were carried out along waterways and esteros surrounding the area of Manila Bay.

“There is an urgent need to convene the advisory committee as different government agencies are hastily implementing the clean up as a result of tropical storm Ondoy,” Atty. Esponilla said.

Atty. Esponilla said while the clean up is valuable and must be duly supported by all sectors it must not come at the expense of displacing thousands of urban poor families already marginalized by society.

“Let us be clear about two things here. One, the poor are not the major cause of the floodings. Second, the urban poor communities are not against any move to clean up Manila bay in order to restore its former splendor,” Atty. Esponilla stressed.

UPA said there are other explanation for floodings such as urban planning defects and environmental degradation as a result of illegal logging and quarrying activities in the mountains around Metro Manila. The group also said that the urban poor dwellers along esteros, waterways and other so-called danger areas not as a “matter of choice” but because they must in order to survive.

“As such, we believe in the effort to clean up Manila Bay, a comprehensive and decent relocation program and immediate economic relief must come with the initiative,” Atty. Esponilla said.

Atty. Esponilla also said the public must not be made to choose between the interest of the environment and the rights and welfare of the poor.

“They are not mutually exclusive of one another. Both are important. Surely, the rehabilitation of Manila Bay without resolving the urban poor question would be another tragedy. We would get rid off the pollution at the expense of the people. As such, we urge the government to convene the advisory committee to prevent or avert any violation of laws particularly the shelter rights of the poor living in the surrounding area of Manila Bay,” Atty. Esponilla concluded.

Other movants of the said motion include Community Organizers Multiversity (COM), Community Organization of the Philippine Enterprise (COPE), Kabalikat sa Pagpapaunlad ng Baseco (KABALIKAT), Ugnayang Lakas ng mga Apektadong Pamilya sa Baybaying Ilog Pasig (ULAP) and residents along Radial 10 (R-10) Boulevard in Tondo, Manila. -30-

Monday, October 05, 2009

World Habitat Day

Let's stand up on World Habitat Day and let it be known that affordable, adequate housing should be a priority everywhere—in our communities, in our towns, in our country, in our world.

News Facts

The United Nations has designated the first Monday each October as
World Habitat Day.

This year on Oct. 5 in Washington, D.C. and around the world, please join Habitat for Humanity in support of this global observance as we come together and declare that the lack of decent, affordable housing is unacceptable.

According to the United Nations, more than 100 million people in the world today are homeless. Millions more face a severe housing problem living without adequate sanitation, with irregular or no electricity supply and without adequate security.

Worldwide, more than 2 million housing units per year are needed for the next 50 years to solve the present worldwide housing crisis. With our global population expanding, however, at the end of those 50 years, there would still be a need for another 1 billion houses. (UN-HABITAT: 2005)

Raising awareness and advocating for change are the first steps toward transforming systems that perpetuate the global plague of poverty housing. World Habitat Day serves as an important reminder that everyone must unite to ensure that everyone has a safe, decent place to call home.

The U.N. further states that both developed and developing countries, cities and towns are increasingly feeling the effects of climate change, resource depletion, food insecurity, population growth and economic instability.

Rapid rates of urbanization cause serious negative consequences - overcrowding, poverty, slums with many poorly equipped to meet the service demands of ever growing urban populations.

With over half of the world’s population currently living in urban areas the U.N. believes there is no doubt that the "urban agenda" will increasingly become a priority for governments, local authorities and their non-governmental partners everywhere.

U.S. Housing Facts

* About 95 million people, one third of the nation, have housing problems including a high-cost burden, overcrowding, poor quality shelter and homelessness. (National Low Income Housing Coalition: 2004)

* One in three American households spend more than 30 percent of income on housing, and one in seven spends more than 50 percent. (Joint Center for Housing Studies: 2006)

* The number of low-income families that lack safe and affordable housing is related to the number of children that suffer from asthma, viral infections, anemia, stunted growth and other health problems. About 21,000 children have stunted growth attributable to the lack of stable housing; 10,000 children between the ages of 4 and 9 are hospitalized for asthma attacks each year because of cockroach infestation at home; and more than 180 children die each year in house fires attributable to faulty electrical heating and electrical equipment. (Sandel, et al: 1999)

Global poverty facts

* By the year 2030, an additional 3 billion people, about 40 percent of the world’s population, will need access to housing. This translates into a demand for 96,150 new affordable units every day and 4,000 every hour. (UN-HABITAT: 2005)

* One out of every three city dwellers – nearly a billion people – lives in a slum. (Slum indicators include: lack of water, lack of sanitation, overcrowding, non-durable structures and insecure tenure.) (UN-HABITAT: 2006)

* UN-Habitat has reported that because of poor living conditions, women living in slums are more likely to contract HIV/AIDS than their rural counterparts, and children in slums are more likely to die from water-borne and respiratory illness. (UN-HABITAT: 2006)

* Housing formation generates non-housing related expenditures that help drive the economy. (Kissick, et al: 2006)

* Investing in housing expands the local tax base. (Kissick, et al: 2006)

The theme for World Habitat Day 2009 is "Planning our Urban Future"
Celebrations of World Habitat Day in Washington, D.C. will be an excellent opportunity to foster global discussion and raise the profile of shelter and urban issues at the national and international level. Events in the United States and around the world include policy forums, award presentations, luncheons, dinners, house-building and exhibitions.

Visit the Habitat for Humanity Web site

Friday, October 02, 2009

Urban Development Plan answer to storm-related tragedies?

09/30/2009 | 08:47 PM

22 flood victims lie in state at Bagong Silangan evacuation center
09/30/2009 | 12:49 PM