Thursday, April 20, 2006

NHA relocation sites would spell tragedy as it makes poor families poorer


For Immediate Release 0n April 21, 2006

Railway leaders to NHA officials: NHA relocation sites would spell tragedy as it makes poor families poorer

Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales may be very disappointed when he learns the national government has done little to remedy the weaknesses he pointed out some time ago in the government’s eviction and resettlement program in Cabuyao, Laguna, Urban Poor Associates project officer Alicia G. Murphy said.

At a meeting March 6 with poor people affected by the railroad improvement work and government officials headed by National Housing Authority (NHA) general manager Federico Laxa, the Cardinal said the government should give special care to children’s schooling and to family income, meaning jobs.

“Livelihood of the poor must be the prime concern of the government when it relocates people. We cannot bring poor people to a place where there is no work,” the Cardinal said. He asked the government to make sure there was work for the relocated people before they were sent to distant sites.

Studies done for the Urban Research Consortium of the Ateneo de Manila University show family income drops by 40% to 50% when people are moved to distant relocation sites, such as Cabuyao, which is 45 kilometers from Makati where people lived before they were evicted.

NHA assistant general manager Froilan Kampitan told railway leaders April 18 that people from Manila and Taguig would still be sent to distant sites. Some 50,000 families stand to be evicted from Caloocan City to Calamba.

Wage earners stay in Manila because there are no jobs in Cabuyao. This results in two households, one in Manila and one in Cabuyao, and double expenses. There is no part-time work in Cabuyao, such as doing laundry, so the women and children cannot earn part time money.

Estrella Terencio cited several problems at the relocation site particularly the lack of livelihood opportunities, potable water, electricity, schools and health services. She said, “Many of the relocatees suffer due to the poor relocation program. Once relocated, many of the poor families go back to Metro Manila to live as slum dwellers once more because without income they go hungry at the relocation site.”

At the March 6 meeting Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC) secretary general Lucille Ortille promised to start the preparations to ensure that displaced students at the relocation site will continue schooling this June. This was one of the Cardinal’s principal worries.

“There will be approximately 4,000 children of elementary school age in the Cabuyao relocation area. The government promises to build all necessary classrooms and provide up to 80 teachers, but many observers doubt classes will begin in June. And what of high school students? They may have to go all the way to Manila,” UPA said.

There are 20 or so classrooms there but now a resident, Antonio Fernandez said “Ang iskwelahan dito walang upuan, walang blackboard at maestra. Wala ring kuryente, tubig na mainom at masyadong mataas ang transportasyon. Kawawa ang mga bata at senior citizen dito.”
The Cardinal also asked government to improve conditions in the relocation area which it is trying to do as well as it can. He also suggested the government not treat its cut-off dates and deadline dates as untouchable entities. He urged government to help house all people including those who missed cut-off dates.

The Urban Poor Associates, a non-government organization that works with the poor families, went to the Microbiology Laboratory of the Ateneo de Manila University to have a bacteriological analysis of water at the relocation site. The result of the evaluation stated that the water sample collected from Block 65 Lot 57 of Southville in Cabuyao contains non-coliform bacteria. It is therefore recommended that the water obtained from this source be boiled for at least 20 minutes before human consumption. Hence, many of the children at the relocation site suffered gastric upset. -30-

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