Sunday, October 8, 2006

Group comes to the aid of families in toxic relocation site

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October 8, 2006

Group comes to the aid of families in toxic relocation site

Heaven sent angels in Southville.

These are the words that describe how hundreds of afflicted families felt after receiving medical services and free medicines from non-government organizations yesterday at the Southville Housing Project in Cabuyao, Laguna.

"Uso dito ang skin diseases, sore eyes, diarrhea, lagnat, ubo, sipon, pneumonia at sakit sa puso. Malaking ginhawa sa amin ang medical mission na ito," said Ester Terencio, president of the Urban Poor Southville Association Inc. (UPSAI).

Shortly after typhoon Milenyo devastated newly built houses in Southville, the Grassroots Women Empowerment Center (GWEC) organized medical teams composed of doctors from Caloocan Medical Society and dentists from Emilio Aguinaldo College.

"The government has relocated the poor families into a site with limited access to clean water, clinics, electricity, schools and transport. Hence, widespread diseases has made these people in dire need of medical services," said Lee Salamanca of GWEC.

Tthe Ecowaste Coalition, a group of environmentalists, has recently categorized Southville as a "toxic relocation site" since it is located only a few meters from a hazardous dumpsite.

Southville Housing Project is an instant community of 7,000 families relocated from Metro Manila railway tracks to give way for the Northrail-Southrail Linkage Project (NSLP). It may soon add another 10,000 households with the development of a 100-hectare Southville Housing Project II.

"The enormous numbers of displaced railway families in a site, most of them below the poverty line, is economically and socially unsound. The heightened hunger and poverty brought on by uprooting poor families from their source of income can only be viewed as a disaster in the making," said the Urban Poor Associates (UPA), a non-governent organization working with urban poor issues.

His Eminence Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales was able to publicize the issue but he have not been able to influence government to take decisive steps in solving the problem. "Perhaps our appeals for the poor families have fallen on deaf ears," the UPA added. -30-

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