Sunday, April 27, 2014

Slum dwellers face forced eviction; Road widening project to leave 1,600 homeless

Slum dwellers in five villages of Tondo district in Manila were evicted last Tuesday (April 22) to make way for a road-widening project by the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH).

The P100 million Road 10 (R-10) project will add two more lanes to its 2-kilometer section adjacent to Manila's North Harbor area. It is expected to improve traffic flow in Metro Manila but it will also render some 1,600 people homeless.

Homelessness may yet again be the fate of 27-year-old Mary Jane Paco, who lives with her husband and one-year-old child.

Paco’s family used to lived on the sidewalk outside the Santo NiƱo de Tondo Parish Church. The shanty on Road 10 has provided them shelter for the last three years.

"We may yet again live on the streets, and maybe go back to our old refuge on the sidewalk outside the Tondo church after authorities flatten our home," she said.

Yolanda Gamido, 53, finds herself in the same predicament. She is a renter and is not qualified for relocation. The mother of two now lives alone, barely getting by on her pension.

Ammie Serafin, a former overseas worker said she has heavily invested in Road 10. She bought a land property, renting out the 15 rooms in her three-storey house. She also bought other properties in the area.

Judith Javar, a 35-year-old mother of four, was born and raised in the slums along Road 10. Last year her family was relocated to Bocaue, Bulacan, about 30 kilometers northeast of Manila. She said she returned to Tondo because there is no livelihood in the relocation site.

Javar prays for a better life now that she will be forced to return to the relocation site; otherwise she becomes homeless.

Sixty-one-year-old Merly Barredo, a long-time resident of R-10, will be relocated to Bocaue. The National Housing Authority (NHA) gave her a US$22 allowance and provided a truck to transport her personal belongings. Barredo works as a candy vendor in Tondo, earning $7-11 a day.

She came to Manila 30 years ago to seek a better life. She said the life she had on Road 10 was actually better than the rural life in her hometown in Aklan province.

"Being relocated to Bocaue is like returning to my life in the mountains," she said.

The demolition is expected to finish by the end of the month.

Some urban poor groups say it was illegal and they blame the privatization of Manila's port as the reason behind the demolition.


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