Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Much more than 100,000 in Metro Manila homeless -- study

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Much more than 100,000 in Metro Manila homeless -- study

6 March 2007. Much more than 100,000 ‘new’ types of homeless have emerged in Metro Manila and they are all products of globalization and a mark of modern capitalism, according to a study recently presented to the Institute on Church and Social Issues (ICSI).

It also said that it is only a matter of time that this types of homeless will increase more and more, and that its existence will be recognized as the ‘new homeless’ different from the squatter homeless as they become noticeable everywhere.

“These are the people moving on the streets in some constant range and who cannot live even in the squatters,” said Hideo Aoki Ph.D., Director of Japan’s Urban Sociology Research Center and a research fellow at the Ateneo de Manila University.

Aoki said that street homeless have not attracted people’s attention so far because their existence has been overwhelmed by the large-scale squatter problem. According to him, the process why globalization resulted in the increase of street homeless is composed of the following sub-processes that are functional to each other:

Increase of life chance
The globalization has brought the expansion of the service economy in Manila. And it has brought the increase of the life chance for street homeless. First, the business facilities, the convenience store, the family restaurant etc. have increased drastically. As a result the life resources such as food with which street homeless can survive have increased. And the opportunity for street homeless to beg the money has increased too. This process is the first pull-factor that induces the poor people to the streets.

Secondly, the expansion of the service economy has urged the informalization of labor, that is, the increase of the new various occupations which poor people could be engaged in with the small equity capital and without any special knowledge and skills. The existing informal sector has expanded too. As a result jobs on the street such as vendor, scavenger, barker, carrier have increased especially in the bottom of the informal sector. Finally, the new informal occupations such as cleaner, sandwich man, car watcher, errand etc. have appeared. These job conditions have produced the new life chances of street homeless. This is the second pull-factor that induces the poor people to the streets.

Downward pressure in the status
The globalization has urged to reorganize the labor market through the neo-liberalist restructuring of company, that is, the flexibilization of labor, which worker is requested to have the ability to perform the various jobs and the contractualization of employment, which limits the worker’s employment term in 3 to 6 months. They have made the worker’s employment status unstable and cut back the real wage. There have increased the workers who get wages under the minimum level even in the modern companies including the multi-national corporations. Those conditions have made the worker's life situation worsen. Some workers have had side jobs mostly in the informal sector, other workers have transferred from the companies to the informal occupations. And other family members have set to work mostly in the informal occupation. All of these strengthened the downward pressure to the worker’s status. This situation of labor became the general background in which people in the bottom of the society became homeless. This process is the first push-factor that pushes the poor people to the streets.

Demolition of squatter
The globalization has accelerated the competition among the capitals and has urged to redevelop the land. The market of real estate has expanded. The lands, which were unused and devastated, have been redeveloped. And the gentrification of inner-city has been proceeded. The government’s policies such as privatization of the public land, improvement of the dangerous area, beautification of the street have accelerated these processes. And the demolition of squatter has been practiced from the inner-city. Squatter has increased on the surrounding edge of city, where the unused and devastated lands remained. People who were not given the lands to live, who rejected to transfer to the relocation sites and who returned from the relocation sites to Manila have increased. Among them people who did not have relatives to rely on have stayed on the streets. This process is the second push-factor that pushes the poor people to the streets.

Deadlock of operating the policies
The globalization has given birth a small government through the neo-liberalism, and has deteriorated the financial crisis of developing country. As a result the policies about homeless people have gone to be deadlocked. Firstly, the policy to create jobs for the urban poor, especially the squatter inhabitants, has been deadlocked. Secondly, the policy for the land secure and the house construction for the squatter inhabitants have been deadlocked. The compensation such as relocation has been practiced only for some parts of squatter inhabitants. Thirdly, the policy for the employment and the welfare that should relieve the street homeless has been deadlocked. There have been no homeless measures worth of special mention except the emergency aid of medical treatment, and six temporary facilities for the street homeless in Manila. These conditions are the third push-factor that pushes the poor people to the streets.

Street homeless are formed as a social stratum through the processes in which the various factors which induce the poor people to the streets, the pull-factors, and the various factors which push the poor people to the streets, the push-factors, operate together. The circumstances in which homeless people are produced are different in each country, each city being defined by each history. However, ‘new homeless’ has appeared almost at the same time in the cities of industrial country and of developing country.

According to Aoki, the increase of the street people in Manila has its unique process prescribed by the history in the Philippines: Why is the Philippines’ economy not able to take off? Why is the Philippines’ government not able to resolve the problems of poverty and housing? What political, social and cultural conditions are there behind those problems?

The transformation of urban industrial and spatial structure through the globalization is intensively represented in the situation of new homeless. The homeless problem ranged over a wide variety of social areas from exploitation, discrimination and exclusion to civility, public space and social movements. It manifested, at a stroke, the modern society’s diverse set of problems. New homeless are a symbolic existence that expresses the polarization of urban class structure. -30-

For additional information please contact John Lagman
(632) 4264118.

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