Sunday, September 9, 2007

Bishop Pabillo, Mayor Cuerpo back railway families’ plea for alternative relocation site

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Bishop Pabillo, Mayor Cuerpo back railway families’ plea for alternative relocation site

10 September 2007. Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo and Rodriguez Mayor Pedro Cuerpo joined grassroots organizations this morning in a press conference held at the Arzobispado de Manila to demand that the government find alternatives to its policy of relocating poor people to remote sites.

Railway families who are facing imminent threat of evictions due to the Northrail-Southrail Linkage Project press the government to arrange that necessary relocation be to nearby sites like Rodriguez, and no longer to places two or more hours drive outside Metro Manila which is far from their jobs.

Mayor Cuerpo is offering hope to railway families as he has certified that the Municipality of Rodriguez in Rizal is willing to accept families living along the railroad tracks from Sampaloc up to Sta. Cruz, Manila.

Destined to be dumped in distant relocation sites where life is extremely hard, Samahang Apektadong Pamilya sa Riles (SAPAR) have taken initiatives to find alternative relocation sites for some 1,500 families. Despite many appeals the National Housing Authority (NHA) refuses to accept the Montalban relocation site.

The group also expressed admiration for Bishop Pabillo's consistent support for the poor. The chairman of the Philippine bishops' Housing Committee has assailed the soulless eviction of poor families.

The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines has called the attention of the government in its pastoral statements on the homeless (1997) and on the nation’s housing problems (2007) to stop uncaring demolitions as it only put poor families from danger zone to death zone.

The government’s efforts to decongest Metro Manila by relocating poor people to distant places is simply pathetic, according to Urban Poor Associates (UPA), a non-government organization that concentrates on evictions and slum-upgrading.

Results of a survey done by UPA indicated that poor people in distant relocation sites would likely go back to Metro Manila due to the following issues: lack of electricity and potable water, livelihood and job problems, high cost of commodities and transportation, payments of units alloted, problem on security, and poor facilities.

Lawyer Bienvenido Salinas II, coordinator of UPA's legal unit St. Thomas More Law Center said the law requires that families evicted from government land be given decent relocation. “The Constitution clearly stated in its Article XIII (Section 10) that no resettlement of urban poor dwellers should be undertaken without adequate consultation with them and the communities where they are to be relocated.” ###

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