Friday, May 12, 2006

The EKK’s quest for the future by Billy Bernaldez

Sometimes, Mayet Betaloso could still recall the children’s voices while playing in the shabby streets of the late Baseco Compound in Port Manila. Screaming and laughing… although in reality, their worn faces showed what they have suffered from four- simultaneous- fire that razed their homes yearly since 2002 to 2005.

But now, she could breathe lighter than before as she glimpse a little hope for the realization of the dreams of these children, when a tutorial program was established at Baseco Compound which was the Edukasyong Kabalikat sa Kaunlaran (EKK). EKK aims to break the cycle of poverty through education.

Initiated through the help of KABALIKAT, a local organization that intends to improve the lives of Baseco families, the project was initially financed by an international social foundation for its implementation. It includes the rental fees of a small classroom, procurement of the chairs, tables, facilities and for the salaries of the teachers hired.

“Karamihan sa mga bata dito, pagkagaling sa paaralan ay naglalaro sa mga estero at kanal ng mga kalye. Kaya nga kami ay natutuwa at kahit papaano ay meron ng pupuntahan na maayos na lugar yung mga bata,” (Most of the children here, after schooling, are playing in the canals of the streets. That is why we are so glad now that there is a good place where the children can go) says Jeorgie Tenolete, president of KABALIKAT.

Since 2003, EKK had invited many children, mostly from the lower sections of Grade five and six with general average of 79 and below, from Herminigildo Atienza Elementary School (HAES) to attend the tutorial class. However, due to the small area of the classroom and the immense number of enrollees, EKK could accommodate students only for a limited time per day.

“It is good that many children were enrolled in the program though we know that we could never accommodate them all. What is important is that the program would help this children tap their educational incompetence,” Betaloso said, one of the founder of the EKK.

But unfortunately, the EKK noticed that there is something wrong happening with the children. Last July 2005, the EKK had 130 initial numbers of registered pupils; but as the months passed, this number was reduced, till then there’s only 35 pupils left at the end of the school year.

One of the main problems sighted by the EKK regarding this problem is poverty. The parents, instead of sending their children in tutorial class after schooling in HAES, sent their children to work where they can to earn additional money for their living.

“Many children do not really work after all. They were so young to finance their family’s living. What they actually do is play on the streets which makes them less-educated. That is why the EKK made some actions to remedy the situation.” says Laarni Salanga, teacher of the EKK tutorial class and educational consultant of the Urban Poor Associates (UPA), a non-government organization working with the urban poor.

But things get worst when another problem arose. Lately, they asked the HAES administration to help them identify low-comprehended pupils to be brought in the tutorial classes, however, just July last year, the public school renounced its support.

“I was so sad, in behalf of the EKK program, when I learn that the school doesn’t want to help us anymore. Perhaps, they misinterpreted the strategy we are using to give responsibility for parents to send their children in the tutorial program,” Salanga said.

Salanga said that the reason why the school withdraws its cooperation is because of the 15 pesos fee that the EKK collects on each pupil every month which started since July 2005. She stressed that parents are not forced to pay this fee and that it was only a way to encourage them to send their children in the tutorial class. And as a matter of fact, from their record, out of 50 parents who agreed to pay the fee, 12 paid for the first month while only four completed the payments for the school year.

The school however did not accept the explanation of the EKK.

The HAES reasoned out to EKK, that the public school should not collect fees from the parents of their pupils. The school administration doesn’t want to intrude the transaction anymore because they are afraid that the school might be sued for this collection.

“The parents have already understood the purpose of the fee and there is nothing malicious about it. I know that the school would cooperate if they can only understand the needs of under-achievers and the importance of tutorial classes,” Salanga said.

The argument was brought by the EKK to the District Supervisor of Manila, however, the school is firm with their stand not to render any help unless the P15 fee will be abolished.

Presently, the EKK has already stopped their pursuance to seek help from the public school (although a little support from them will be a great help for the program and for the Baseco children). What the EKK program is hoping for is that somehow the said school will help these poor children achieved their dreams.

“I want to be a Computer Engineer in the future. If there would still be a tutorial class to help me, maybe I could do it,” says Jun, a graduating student in HAES.

EKK was still there to give hope for the realization of the dreams of the Baseco children. -30-

The longing tears in the railway by Billy Bernaldez

“It is not the house that counts, nor the comfort of it…it is the life that is at risk - on how we will continue to live without our jobs.”

These are the words uttered by Lola Virginia Bernardo, 65 years old and a grandmother of three. “I’m willing to live anywhere together with my family, just to be assured that we could really survive,” she said.

Lola Virginia had been living as informal settler along the railway tracks of Brgy. 807 in Vito Cruz, Manila since 1998. She is aware that they are illegally residing the place but she has no other choice at that time; either to lie barely on the freezing ground of hi-ways and boulevards, her family have chosen to place their home beside the railway - even if it also means putting their lives at stake.

Her husband died due to a disease called Emphysema the year 2000. Since then, together with her son, granddaughters and a grandson, they faced the dilemma of living in the city.

“Sometimes, I sell vegetables in Paco, Manila. My son advised me to stay at home, to rest due to my old age…but I have to work. Besides, my two granddaughters are studying in elementary and his income will never sustain us all,” Lola Virginia said.

Her son works from 7:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. as an FX driver in Manila enduring the heat during daylight at work to supply their family’s needs. However, although he is working hard, thrice a week, his daily income would still be hard to accommodate them all. That is why Lola Virginia would still want to work to fill that necessity.

But things went wrong when the homes of railway families in Makati City started to be demolished last January. More than 2,000 families were relocated to Cabuyao Laguna. She was informed that the government has a plan to renovate the area (including theirs) to launch a huge project. With this happenings, she was really scared stiff.

“I began to loose hope when I heard that we are going to be displaced to Cabuyao. I couldn’t sleep at night. My close friends who have already got there said that they have so many difficulties. I couldn’t imagine what will happen to us there,” Lola Virginia said in a trembling voice.


The NSLP

Lola Virginia is only one of about an estimated 150,000 to 180,000 urban poor families that will be displaced in different relocation sites from North Rail and South Rail tracks. Some 21,000 families (18,000 along the North Rail and 3,000 along the South Rail) have already been displaced.

This huge displacement of urban poor families and the continuous clearing of Northrail and Southrail in Manila are the effects brought by the Northrail-Southrail Linkage Project (NSLP), a joint project initiated by the Arroyo Administration and the Korean Export-Import Bank. The plan consists of two stages: The Phase 1 which starts from Caloocan along Manila, Makati, Tagiug, Parañaque and Muntinlupa and the Phase 2 which is in Laguna, from San Pedro, along Biñan, Sta. Rosa, Cabuyao and Calamba.

The Phase 1 of the project will span 32 km. from Caloocan City to Alabang in Muntinlupa City. The project, with an approved budget of P27 billion will be interconnected to NorthRail, LRT 1 and 2 and MRT 3. This was seen to load about 187,000 passengers daily with 16 number of station to be served.

The Phase 2 of the project is an advance proposal seen to begin on 2008, which involves 25.90 km. stretching from Alabang, Muntinlupa to Calamba, Laguna. This will affect about 11,000 poor urban families along the railways.

Way back to railway

Aling Josephine Ibardolaza, 45, scans the extended horizon covered by broken bricks. Not anything will be seen standing in both sides of the railways, except for a Balete tree and some people standing distantly - people who have once dwell their lives in the place and hoping to turn back the time to live there again.

Aling Josephine and other poor families were relocated at the Cabuyao resettlement area. And now they are returning to their places in the railways even though they were not allowed by the government to stay there again.

“We have to leave Cabuyao because that is the place of hunger. We already have our houses there but we don’t have jobs to feed ourselves,” said Luz Ibardolaza, one of the relocatees who returned to San Antonio in Makati City.

Luz Ibardolaza, 61, has two daughters and 11 grandchildren. All of them, together with other 20 families, including two babies, are now residing under the bridge of San Antonio beside a polluted canal. There were threats from the MMDA (Metro Manila Development Authority) that they will be expelled on the said place because the bridge was still covered by the project.

“We would rather choose to live here even it was so dangerous and uncomfortable. The sources of our income were here in the city and we need it for us to survive,” Luz Ibardolaza said.

The family of Ibardolaza works throughout in the streets of Makati and Manila everyday. Most of them are vendors of fishballs, vegetables and fruits while others are just scavenging the trash for them to survive.


A call to remember

One of the great problems faced by the evicted families on the resettlement area is their livelihood, which is the reason why many of them return to the railways. The government did not offer them any means for livelihood. They also stressed that due to far distance of the relocation area from the Cabuyao town proper (which means a need to pay P40 back and forth for their fare), they could do no more but to return in their lost jobs in Makati City.

At first, each displaced family received P50,000 for the building of their own houses - P10,000 for the labor and P40,000 for the housing materials. They have to finish building their houses in 10 days because the tent, which they temporarily used as a shelter, will be returned to the National Housing Authority (NHA) after the due date.

But then a problem arises when they started constructing their houses. Lola Luz Ibardolaza said they realized that the money handed to them would be used only for the building of their houses. And since many of them do not have the knowledge to build cement structures, they have to throw the P10,000 for the labor, means, there were no allotted budget for their food.

“We’re penniless at those times. We need to eat that is why we need money. And even though we have something to eat, it was not permanent, we need a job and that is what we couldn’t find there,” said Lola Luz Ibardolaza.

Last April 14, hundreds of urban poor families relocated in Cabuyao, Laguna held a protest rally. The rally was named “Kalbaryo ng Maralitang Tagalungsod” (Calvary of the Urban Poor) to call on the attention of the government, particularly the NHA to address their concerns: Potable water, electricity, education, food, transportation, health and livelihood.

“There is water but it’s not potable; there is no electricity; there stands the school but there were no facilities and teachers; the people could work but there is no job. So how can these people survive? These are the basic needs that every individual needs and the governments’ responsibility to provide,” said Jazel Virtuzio, administration assistant of Urban Poor Associates (UPA). UPA is a non-government organization established to educate poor families in housing rights matters.

It could be remembered that the Arroyo Administration assured the people during her election campaign that she would give 10 million jobs for the poor. However, until now, poor people were still asking if they really heard the said pledge or perhaps it’s just one of their illusions.

“The informal dwellers in the railways were already below the poverty line. They really need help and they are the one who needs much attention. I think the government is really sleeping and needs to be disturbed,” Denis Murphy said, executive director of UPA.

Today, the poor families, especially in the railways are still looking for some way to wake the government, to look over them. Not just to observe them dying, but to help them solve the dilemmas that they are now experiencing.

“We are hoping that the government somehow will see our situation. We are helpless at this time. Just give to the poor people their needs…nothing more,” Luz Ibardolaza said. -30-

Manindigan! Ipaglaban ang makataong relokasyon!

STATEMENT*** PRESS STATEMENT*** PRESS STATEMENT
For Immediate Release on May 20, 2006

Manindigan! Ipaglaban ang makataong relokasyon!

Ang dignidad ng tao ay hindi maaaring bayaran. Hindi tama kailanman, lalo na sa pamahalaan na may pananagutan sa kabutihan ng lahat na hindi pansinin ang mahirap na kalagayan ng napakaraming tao at pamilya na napilitang manirahan sa lansangan o magkasya sa miserableng barung-barong na tirahan.

Kaming mahigit 800 pamilya sa R10, Sitio Sto. Niño, Puting Bato sa Navotas ay walang-awang dinemolis ng Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) simula noong Huwebes. Daan-daang demolition crews mula sa Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA), kasama ang mga armadong pulis, ang nagsagawa ng sapilitang ebiksyon gamit ang bulldozer, back hoe at iba pang heavy machinery.

Ayon sa ating Saligang Batas, hindi dapat paaalisin ni gigibain ang mga tirahan ng maralitang tagalungsod maliban kung naaayon sa batas at sa paraang makatarungan at makatao. Hindi dapat ilipat ng tirahan ang mga maralitang tagalungsod nang walang sapat na pagsang-guni sa kanila at sa mga pamayanang paglilipatan sa kanila. (Art. XIII, Sek. 10, 1987 Saligang Batas)

Ito ay pinagtibay ng Seksyon 28 ng RA 7279 o Urban Development and Housing Act of 1992. Ayon sa UDHA, pinahihintulutan ang demolisyon ngunit sa pagsasagawa nito ipinag-uutos ang sapat na relokasyon.

Kami ay nanawagan sa pamahalaan na ipatupad sa makataong paraan ang mga ebiksyon at tiyakin ang sapat at angkop na relokasyon.

Maraming demolisyon ang isinasagawa sa pagpapalagay na dapat alisin ang mga maralita sa isang lugar, ngunit naglalagay lamang sa kanila sa higit na mapanganib na kalagayan.

Malinaw na ayon sa batas at mga alintuntunin nito, ang bawat maralita ay may karapatan laban sa sapilitang paglilikas at karapatan sa maayos at sapat na relokasyon.

Subalit paano kung ang pamahalaan na dapat magpasunod ng mga batas ay siya ang pangunahing lumalabag nito? Walang malinaw na relokasyon sa amin. Hindi nasunod ang UDHA. Walang financial at food support, walang suporta mula sa LGUs. May mga paglabag sa karapatang pantao.

Kami, kasama ang mga NGOs na tumutulong sa amin, ay kinokondena ang pagwawalang bahala ng pamahalaan sa mga pangunahing pangangailan ng mga pinalayas at ipinagtabuyang pamilya. Labis na kaming naghihirap, bakit pa kami lalong pinahihirapan? Paano na ang pag-aaral ng aming mga anak? Paano na ang kanilang kinabukasan?

Ginagamit lamang ng DPWH ang isang taktika/sistema na nakagawian nang gawin ng gubyerno sa bawat maralitang pamilya. Pagbabantaan ng sapilitang demolisyon kung hindi aalis. Bibigyan ng maliit na halaga upang lisanin ang tirahan. Pangangakuan ng relokasyon ngunit sa liblib na lugar gaya ng Bitungol, Norzagaray, Bulacan. At papipirmahin sa isang waiver na nagtatangal sa kanilang obligasyon para sa sapat at makataong paglilipatan. Sa ganitong paraan ang may kasalanan, kung sakaling lisanin ang relokasyong ipinagkaloob sa kanila ay ang mga maralita na siyang malayang sumang-ayon na ipahamak ang kanyang pamilya sa hindi nararapat at angkop na paglilipatan.

Nakagawian na itong gawin ng pamahalaan, paspasan, kahit na malabag ang mga karapatan sa maayos na paninirahan at karapatan bilang isang tao, isang mamamayang sa kanyang maliit na kakayahan ay bahagi rin ng pag-unlad ng bansa. Hindi ito kailanman magtatagumpay. Lumilikha lamang ito ng mas maraming problema/suliranin gaya ng mga taong napipilitang tumira sa mga kalsada, ilalim ng tulay, sementeryo at kung saan-saan pa.

Sana ay gamitin ng gobyerno ang paraang makabubuti sa mga maralita, paraang maka-Diyos at makatao. -30-

Residents, NGOs condemn DPWH and MMDA on unlawful demolition along R10 Navotas

**NEWS RELEASE***NEWS RELEASE***NEWS RELEASE**
For Immediate Release on May 20, 2006

Residents, NGOs condemn DPWH and MMDA on unlawful demolition along R10 Navotas

Some 807 families residing along R10 Road in Sitio Sto. Niño, Puting Bato in Navotas were forcibly evicted by the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) beginning Thursday to give way for a 32.5-meter road widening project from Maralla Bridge to C-4. Hundreds of demolition crews from the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA), escorted by policemen and SWAT armed with high powered rifles, implemented the demolition activity using a bulldozer, 2 back hoes and other heavy machinery. When some residents resisted, policemen fired warning shots while others pointed their guns at the people.

Samahang Maralitang Nagkakaisa R10 (SAMANA), the people’s organization, issued statements to condemn the demolition and the government's insensitivity to the needs of evicted families. “Walang malinaw na relokasyon. Hindi nasunod ang Republic Act 7279 or the Urban Development and Housing Act (UDHA). Walang financial at food support. Walang suporta mula sa Local Government Units (LGUs). May mga human rights violations,” the SAMANA said.

Only 561 of the 807 families will be entitled to relocation because the rest failed to be included on the 2001 Census made by DPWH, the SAMANA said. Hence, many evicted families have been living on the shabby sidewalks of Radial R10 Road following the demolition of their houses. “Sana ay mabigyan din kami ng malilipatang bahay malapit sa trabaho at iskwelahan,” said 35 year old Perla Filipinas, mother of five.

According to SAMANA, DPWH used the tactic of threatening people with forced evictions while at the same time offering them small amounts of money, or threatening them with forced evictions while offering to resettle them in sites that are very inadequate and far from areas where they could get jobs like Bitungol in Norzagaray, Bulacan. But the implementing agency asks the affected families to sign waivers absolving government of its obligations to provide adequate relocation.

Meanwhile, non-government organizations (NGOs) such as Community Organization of the Philippine Enterprise (COPE) and Zone 1 Tondo Organization (ZOTO) condemned this tactic of the DPWH which will place the blame on the poor people for "freely" agreeing to something that is disadvantageous or bad for them while at the same sowing enmity among the people between those who “volunteered” and those who refused to waive their human rights.

Caloocan Bishop Degracias Iniguez visited the demolition site and telephoned MMDA Chairman Bayani Fernandez to ask him to stop the demolition but was refused his request. Last Monday a dialogue was held at the parish of Fr. Alan Lopez in Dagat-dagatan and the DPWH agreed to suspend the demolition for three days until Friday. However, on Thursday afternoon the MMDA began the demolition operation.

A year ago the affected residents had meetings with the DPWH during which they rejected its financial offer of P15,000 for each family. They said they preferred relocation to a site in Bagong Silang in Caloocan. The DPWH offered Bitungol in Norzagaray, Bulacan which the people said is too far and without work opportunities. Moreover, the P15,000 offer of the DPWH is also below the UDHA standard of sixty days worth of daily minimum wage amounting to P18,000.

As defined by domestic laws, international treaties and covenants, adequate relocation means decent and habitable houses provided with basic services such as water, electricity, roads, continuity of education for the children. -30-

Urban Poor sumugod kay Kabayan

(Cardinal Rosales sinermunan si VP de Castro)
For Immediate Release on May 15, 2006

Urban Poor sumugod kay Kabayan
(Cardinal Rosales sinermunan si VP de Castro)

“Sa riles di kami pulubi; Gutom sa relokasyon; Kamatayan = Cabuyao; Kaunlaran para sa lahat hindi ng iilan.”

Nag-aapoy sa galit na sumugod ang mahigit 600 pamilyang apektado ng demolisyon mula Caloocan City hanggang Los Baños Laguna sa tanggapan ng Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC) chair, VP Noli de Castro sa lungsod ng Makati. Naubos na umano ang kanilang pasensya sa pagbabalewala sa kanila ni Kabayan.

Nagkaroon ng pagpapahayag ang Koalisyon ng mga Samahan sa Riles-Katimugan sa pamamagitan ng street play. Sila ay gumawa ng maliit na tren upang ipakita kung paano nito winawasak ang kanilang buhay.

Ayon sa kanila, kalunus-lunos ang kanilang kalagayan sa relocation site sa Cabuyao, Laguna. Dahil walang kuryente, walang malinis na tubig na maiinom, malayo sa iskwelahan ng kanilang mga anak at higit sa lahat ay nawalan sila ng hanapbuhay dahil malayo sa dati nilang pinapasukan sa kanilang nilipatang tirahan magmula nang sila’y i-demolish ng pamahalaan. “Sana ang pamahalaan ay maging maka-Kristiyano at makatao kung magta-transfer ng mga tao galing sa riles,” pahayag ni Estrella Terencio, residente ng Southville.

Pinalala pa ng hagupit ng bagyong Caloy ang kanilang sitwasyon, hanggang ngayon ay tent lamang ang tirahan ng iba sa kanila at hindi pa nasisimulan ang paggawa sa kanilang lilipatan.

Kaugnay nito, nanawagan si Manila Archbishop Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales na itigil muna ang demolisyon hanggat hindi pa talaga nakahanda ang paglilipatan sa mga maaapektuhan. Tila nabigyan ng pag-asa ang mga taga-riles at nagpalakpakan nang basahin ang liham ni Cardinal para kay Kabayan.Umaasa sila na dahil may suporta ng simbahan, sila ngayon ay haharapin na ni VP de Casro.

Ngunit hindi sumipot si Kabayan, kaya kinausap na lamang nila si Atty. Pamela Yabut, legal counsel ng HUDCC. Ayon kay Alicia G. Murphy, project officer ng Urban Poor Associates, magkakaroon ng pag-uusap sa Miyerkules kung maaari ang in-city relocation sa Taguig, gaya ng mungkahi ni Cardinal. Subalit hindi aniya masasagot ni Atty. Yabut kung ititigil ang demolisyon sa Maynila upang maisaayos muna ang relokasyon sa Laguna.

Sa kanyang sulat pinayuhan ng Cardinal si VP de Castro na pag-isipang maigi ang mga plano ng gubyerno ukol sa malawakang pagre-relocate ng mga mahihirap sa malalayong lugar. Kailangan aniya na hanggat maaari ay malapit sa hanapbuhay, ibig sabihin ay in-city relocation. “We have to look again at our priorities. Do they reflect the Christian social teaching?,” pahayag ng Cardinal sa kanyang liham kay VP de Castro.

Ito ang pangalawang beses na kung saan ang isang Obispo ay nanawagan para itigil ang demolisyon. Ginawa rin ito ni Bishop Jose Oliveros ng Malolos noong October 2005.

Tinatayang 50,000 pamilya ang palalayasin sa riles mula Caloocan City hanggang Calamba para mabigyang daan ang rehabilitasyon ng Philippine National Railway (PNR), ayon sa Urban Poor Associates o UPA, isang non-government organization. Tinatayang 22,000 pamilya na ang na-displaced dahil sa Northrail at Southrail project ng pamahalaan (18,000 sa Northrail at 4,000 sa Southrail).
Ilang beses nang humingi ng tulong kay Kabayan ang mga mahihirap subalit ayon sa kanila ay wala namang aksyon. “Patuloy s’yang nagbibingi-bingihan! Wala s’yang ginagawa para solusyunan ang aming mga karaingan!” -30-

DEMOLITIONS TROUBLE CARDINAL (Cardinal Rosales to VP de Castro: Stop Demolition)

MEDIA ADVISORY

Attention: News Editor, News Desk, Reporters and Photojournalists

DEMOLITIONS TROUBLE CARDINAL
(Cardinal Rosales to VP de Castro: Stop Demolition)

Hundreds of railway dwellers will rally at the office of the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC) Chair VP Noli de Castro at the Atrium Building, Makati Avenue in Makati City on May 15, Monday (9:00 AM) to demand a moratorium on all evictions on the railroad.

The people will bring a letter of Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales to VP de Castro suggesting the HUDCC Chair declare a moratorium on evictions until the relocation sites are prepared. They will discuss the problems if the vice president meets them during the rally. Otherwise they will post the letter on a wall.

The people and the Cardinal say the relocation sites are not prepared. They say the moratorium of demolition will give government time to give more care to children’s schooling and to family income in the relocation area, and to help house all people including those who missed cut-off dates. They will also demand HUDCC not threaten or scare people into relocating.

The Cardinal also advises VP de Castro to take another look at distant relocation, for example, in Taguig. This is the second time a bishop has called for a moratorium. Bishop Jose Oliveros of Malolos did the same in October 2005.

Some 50,000 families stand to be evicted from Caloocan City to Calamba. They are currently threatened with eviction due to the Southrail Project. Some 22,000 families (18,000 on the Northrail and 4,000 on the Southrail) have already been displaced.

The people have constructed their own train. They will show how it destroys people’s lives.

The Urban Poor Associates (UPA), a non-government organization working with the poor families, conducted research in North and South relocation sites. UPA found 70% of the relocatees have built their homes but only 50% of them occupy the homes they built at the North relocation sites. Seventy two percent of the respondents in the South relocation site said they experience lack of food, only 36% said they also experienced lack of food on the railway. This is a 100% increase from when they were on the railroad.

The water in the South relocation site is not fit to drink, according to the Biology department of Ateneo de Manila University.

EVICTION ANGERS RAIL DWELLERS

MEDIA ADVISORY

Attention: News Editor, News Desk, Reporters and Photojournalists

EVICTION ANGERS RAIL DWELLERS
(Cardinal Rosales to ask for a moratorium)

Hundreds of railway dwellers will rally at the office of the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC) chair VP Noli de Castro at the Atrium Building along Makati Avenue in Makati City on Monday (May 15) 9:00 AM to demand a moratorium on all evictions on the railroad. Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales told the people May 9 he will also ask for a moratorium on evictions.

Railway dwellers will tell the HUDCC that a moratorium of demolition will give it time to give more care to children’s schooling and to family income in the relocation area, and to help house all people including those who missed cut-off dates. They will also demand HUDCC not threaten or scare people into relocating, and to take another look at distant relocation.

Some 50,000 families stand to be evicted from Caloocan City to Calamba. They are currently threatened with eviction due to the Southrail Project. Some 22,000 families (18,000 on the Northrail and 4,000 on the Southrail) have already been displaced.

The people have constructed their own train. They will show how it destroys people’s lives.

The Urban Poor Associates (UPA), a non-government organization working with the poor families, conducted research in North and South relocation sites. UPA found 70% of the relocatees have built their homes but only 50% of them occupy the homes they built at the North relocation sites. Seventy two percent of the respondents in the South relocation site said they experience lack of food, only 36% said they also experienced lack of food on the railway. This is a 100% increase from when they were on the railroad.

Photo ops: Launching of the railway dwellers’ Salot Train.

What: Railway Dwellers’ Protest Rally in HUDCC
When: May 15, 2006 (Monday)
Time: The protest rally will start at 9:00 AM
Where: Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council
In front of Atrium Building along Makati Avenue in Makati City

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