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For Immediate Release on 05 March 2010. Senators Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III and Mar Roxas, the leading candidates in the upcoming polls, will be signing a covenant with the urban poor Saturday, March 6, at the Del Pan Sports Complex, Tondo, Manila.
The covenant is the list of issues submitted to them by the urban poor and housing rights organizations including Urban Poor Associates (UPA), Community Organizers Multiversity (COM), Community Organization of the Philippine Enterprise Foundation (COPE) and UP-All (Urban Poor Alliance).
Before a crowd of ten thousand urban poor people from different parts of Metro Manila, the candidates will promise to carry out the provisions of the covenant if elected.
UPA project coordinator Alice Murphy said, “The signing of the covenant with a leading presidential candidate will be the first in the history of the Philippine Republic. This signifies the candidates’ support of the urban poor and can lead to genuine change in how the government treats the urban poor sector when and if the two assume positions after election.”
The Covenant puts an end to forced eviction. It will not allow any public or private authority to evict families and leave them homeless in the street as is rampantly practiced in the country. It pushes for decent relocation with quality housing, adequate basic services and sustainable livelihood support.
It also calls for more land proclamations and upgrading; more Community Mortgage Programs; doubling of education and health budgets that prioritize poor communities; creation of public works that can generate substantial numbers of jobs for poor people; piped water and legal electricity connections for all poor areas; increase in the housing budget and the extension of land tenure security by all means possible.
“We will be very thankful to Sen. Noynoy and Sen. Mar for signing the covenant. The gesture will be greatly appreciated. More than that, it will gives us, the urban poor, hope in a better future for our children without fear that the new administration will oppress us. Definitely, thousands of urban poor will cast votes in their favor,” said Jeorgie Tenolete President of Baseco Kabalikat and member of Koalisyon ng mga Organisadong Samahan sa Maynila (KOSMA).
The Covenant includes a post-Ondoy rehabilitation program. (Typhoon Ondoy was a cause of the government demolitions of informal settlers living along esteros, coasts, and riversides.) The rehabilitation program identifies remedies that do not require demolition and eviction as it searches for new ways to extend land tenure security to the poor, so they can live and work in the cities.
Part of the Covenant is the appointment of reform-minded persons to head shelter government agencies. The urban poor believe that if the appointed persons in HUDCC or NHA have really a heart for the poor the agencies will be more responsive, efficient, and effective in delivering housing services to the poor families.
Alice Murphy concluded, “We at UPA (Urban Poor Associates) have been fighting for the rights of the poor for the past 30 years. The signing of this covenant might begin to end the long and painful struggles of the poor to alleviate their sad living condition. We have witnessed indiscriminate demolitions and evictions in urban poor communities. In these challenging times, we see hope in the persons of Senators Aquino and Roxas”.