Thursday, April 20, 2006

URBAN POOR VS. BAYANI (QC RTC to junk MMDA Resolutions 03-96 and 02-28)


Attention: News Editor, News Desk, Reporters and Photojournalists


WHAT: The St. Thomas More Law Center, legal unit of Urban Poor Associates, filed a petition for Preliminary Injunction and/or Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) against respondents Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA), MMDA Chairman Bayani Fernando and Metro Manila Council last April 28, 2005 to question the respondents’ power to conduct evictions and demolitions. There will be a court hearing to present the evidence against the respondents and to ask for a preliminary injunction barring the respondents from using MMDA resolutions 03-96 and 02-28.

WHERE: It will be conducted at the Branch 221 of the Quezon City Regional Trial Court (QC RTC).

WHEN: The Court hearing will start at 8:30 AM on May 2, 2006 (Tuesday).

WHY: For more than four long years, the respondents, under the pretense of “enforcing the law” and in an arrogant and highhanded manner, have disregard due process, ignored legal protections and trampled upon the human rights of the poor, underprivileged and marginalized – the most helpless and least empowered members of Filipino society. The petition filed against the respondents before the RTC aims to remedy this injustice.

The “law” in this case being MMDA Resolutions 03-96 and 02-28 issued by the Metro Manila Council have been used, abused, misused and overused by the respondents to justify the vicious action taken against the poor. The unjust and inhuman manner of demolition and eviction being practiced by the respondents violates significant constitutional mandates enshrined in the Social Justice provisions of Article XIII, and doesn’t comply with the Section 28 of the Urban Development and Housing Act (UDHA), the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESC).

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-

Central Avenue demolition left hundreds homeless


For Immediate Release on April 20, 2006

Central Avenue demolition left hundreds homeless

More than three hundred families residing along Central Avenue in Barangays New Era and Culiat in Quezon City were forcibly evicted by Task Force Control on Prevention of all illegal Structures and Squatting (COPRISS) and Urban Poor Affairs Office (UPAO) barely one day after the Holy Week, April 18. Tensions have run high after a violent confrontation between evicted families and demolition crews. Hundreds of demolition crews boarded on 10 waste collection trucks, escorted by about 50 armed policemen, implemented the demolition activity.

A concerned resident sought the help of Urban Poor Associates (UPA), a non-government organization that helps poor families facing evictions, to immediately intervene over the crisis following the violent confrontation. “The on-going demolition which will last until tomorrow might leave many families, including children and elderly, homeless,” the UPA said.

About 170 families in New Era were evicted. Many felt harassed and violated since there is no prior consultations regarding the process of demolition and the relocation. Some of the residents complained about demolition crews stealing their belongings. They said a policeman fired a warning shot after a resident, enraged over the looting, punched a policeman who had authorized the demolition of his property without the owner’s consent.

The demolition crews, without proper identification cards, started demolishing the houses even at the expense of other people’s housing rights. “Nakikiusap po kami na maghintay lang dahil naghahakot pa po kami ng gamit. Nahulugan nila ako ng matigas na bagay at nasugat ang aking ulo,” said Mrs. Linda V. Matute.

Many have decided to defy the order that they transfer to Towerville in Bulacan after those who tried to do so suffered from its poor condition and lack of livelihood opportunities in the relocation site. Instead, they accepted a P5,000 financial assistance from UPAO and signed a waiver. “Tinanggihan namin ito dahil hindi ito ang inaasahan namin. Nandito lang kami sa kalye, wala kaming pupuntahan higit sa lahat wala na kaming hanapbuhay,” said Jessica Mislan, one of the affected residents.

Meanwhile another 180 families from Culiat were also evicted. They received a demolition notice last February 2 from COPRISS signed by Marlowe Y. Jacutin, head of COPRISS. However, another demolition notice was issued again last April 11, this time with a different signature of Jacutin.

The demolition notice states that the residents violated PD 1096, PD 296, Dept. Order No. 4 Series of 87, City Ordinance No. 2229, 8633, Gen. Order No. 43, City Ordinance No. MC-180, Rep. Act 7279 and MMDA Resolution No. 02-28 Series of 2002.

Some affected families received P5,000 financial assistance from UPAO but there will be no relocation for them.

Other families did not receive financial assistance so they decided to stay amid the ruins of their houses. “Kaya po kami tumira sa tabing kalsada wala talaga kaming matirahan dito kasi kung mag upahan kami, walang pambayad kasi walang trabaho ang asawa ko. Nananawagan po kami na tulungan sana kaming umuwi sa Bohol,” said Elizabeth Bastatas, mother of seven. -30-



Attention: News Editor, News Desk, Reporters and Photojournalists

May 5, 2006

SAGIP TAHANAN will examine the many flaws in the government’s housing program for low income families. The theme is: “Maka-Diyos at makataong guidelines ang dapat ibigay para sa pabahay na inutang sa pamahalaan, buong Pilipinas makikinabang.”

There will be an open forum among top leaders from the executive branch, senate, congress, local government units (LGUs), government’s housing institution, developers, non-government organizations (NGOs), Church and media.

The Summit Press Conference will be held at the SSS Auditorium (Bulwagang Pangkomperensiya) in Diliman Quezon City. It will start at 9:00 AM on May 9, 2006 (Tuesday).

The summit press conference aims to gather concern people who can jointly help solve the housing and livelihood problems in this country.

Urban Poor Associates (UPA), a non-government organization, has been pressing the government to provide adequate housing to poor families affected by demolitions. In this regard, the UPA and some leaders of railway people’s organization will have a meeting with Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales in the afternoon (May 9, 2006), 4:00 PM at the Arzobispado de Manila in Intramuros to discuss the housing issues.

The government will remove poor families along the Northrail and Southrail tracks to give way for its railway modernization project. An estimated 150,000 to 180,000 families will be displaced – a truly record breaking feat in our poor nation’s history of displacements. Some 21,000 families (18,000 on the Northrail and 3,000 on the Southrail) have already been displaced.

However, many families are very dissatisfied with the government’s relocation plans and the methods it uses to get people to move to the relocation site. The government’s Southville Housing Project in Cabuyao Laguna, for example, has showcases of failure because relocated families suffer from its problems on lack of livelihood, potable water, electricity, poor sanitation, schools and health services. Hence, many relocated poor families have chosen to live as slum dwellers once more in Metro Manila than to stay at the shabby relocation site. -30-

For more information, please contact:
John Francis Lagman (UPA Media Advocacy Officer)
Tel. 4264118

Water system in Sauyo urban poor community installed


For Immediate Release on April 28, 2006

Water system in Sauyo urban poor community installed

Having regular piped water is a wonderful benefit but it is not easy to come by. For poor people like Editha N. Duazo, mother of five, it was a marvelous gift. Duazo, a resident of Area 6 Sauyo in Quezon City, usually spent P1,180 per month for water.

Now after getting piped water from Manila Water, Duazo will only pay P291. She saved 75% of her usual monthly water bill. “Kami ay natutuwa dahil malaking tulong sa amin ang patubig. Ang natitipid ko sa dating pinambabayad ko sa tubig ay pinambibili ko na ng pagkain sa mga anak ko,” she said.

Urban Poor Associates (UPA), a non-government organization, heads a poor people’s water campaign to get inexpensive piped water. Most poor families usually pay two to three times the legal rate to water vendors otherwise.

Two years ago, the people’s organization, Samahang Magkakapit Bahay (SMB) sa Area 6, asked their Barangay officials to help solve the 19-year old water problem of some 800 families. Without piped water, the residents have to queue to fetch water from a deep well and buy potable water from itinerant water vendors. While a cubic meter of piped water cost only P10, the cost of a cubic meter from some other source is about P100.

However, the Barangay officials did not respond. “It was not easy to install piped water system in Area 6, the cost of the pipe going inside the area cost P2.8 Million, plus charges for the water service connection fee,” the UPA said.

The UPA offered to help them. They discussed their problems through a series of meeting with the people and then write the officials of Manila Water Company, beginning October 2005. After settling the process and the cost of application, the Manila Water personnel started excavations for the piped water system installation on November 7, 2005.

To date, a piped water system for 270 households in Area 6 has been installed. What of the other 530 families living there? It proved too expensive. “Di nakapag-apply lahat dahil marami ang kapos sa pera. Mahal ang bayad sa connection fee,” said Gemma M. Pineda, SMB auditor.

According to UPA, only 20% of urban poor people in Metro Manila have regular piped water services and everyone else gets water at exorbitant prices. “In Sauyo 1/3 of the households did get access but many residents still use expensive water sources because they cannot afford the installation fee for the water service connection, which amounts to P5,177 - P8,101 depending on grouping connections,” the UPA explained.

Former Quezon City Congressman Chuck Mathay’s water development project in four Barangays of the National Government Center Area (Payatas A, Commonwealth, Batasan Hills and Holy Spirit) has benefited thousands of poor families. Funds from the Community Development Fund (CDF) subsidized the water service connections and the residents were allowed to pay over a year instead of the usual three months.

The UPA believed that there has to be political will to solve such problem. “Pro-poor water development projects may be a partial answer,” the UPA added. -30-

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