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Group welcomes Mayor Cuerpo’s offer to house 500,000 homeless

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Group welcomes Mayor Cuerpo’s offer to house 500,000 homeless

11 September 2007. Metro Manila's poor have won a promise from Rodriguez Mayor Pedro Cuerpo to provide relocation sites to at least 500,000 informal settlers who would be displaced from their homes to give way to various government projects.

“Ako ay naniniwala na ang susi sa pag-unlad ay ang mga tao. Kaya bukas ang bayan ng Montalban sa mga apektado ng proyekto,” Mayor Cuerpo said. “Nagbigay na ako ng offer, willingness to cooperate and help relocatees of Northrail-Southrail Project,” he added.

In stressing his town’s humble offer, Cuerpo explained that poor people can be productive citizens in Rodriguez by joining livelihood program for agriculture. “May ordinansa kami na kapag di ginagamit ang bakanteng lupa ay pweding taniman upang mapakinabangan. Pero di pweding ariin,” Cuerpo said.

Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo, chair of the Housing Committee of the Catholic Bishop’s Conference of the Philippines, who has been assisting poor families in eviction crises welcomed the move.

Bishop Pabillo urged the government to hear those who are desperately in need. “Kulang ang konsultasyon sa demolisyon. Yung mga choices sa kanila ay napakaliit. Bunga nito hindi pahahalagahan ang kanilang relokasyon sa malayong lugar, babalik ulit iyan sa Manila,” Pabillo said.

“Sana tingnan yung mga tao, konsultahin para hindi masayang yung perang gagamitin nila sa relokasyon,” Pabillo added.

Results of a survey done by Urban Poor Associates (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.

Leaders of Manila area communities met with Mayor Cuerpo and Bishop Pabillo at the Arzobispado de Manila yesterday to find alternatives to the government’s policy of relocating poor people to remote sites.

Destined to be relocated in distant sites where life is extremely hard, Samahang Apektadong Pamilya sa Riles (SAPAR) have taken initiatives to find alternative relocation sites like Rodriguez.

They said they accepted relocation of a certain quality which would not cause poor families economic loss. For example, they object to being relocated to sites more than 40 kilometers outside the city where their jobs are.

Urban poor groups had sought to dialogue on their resettlement with the National Housing Authority, but their requests were either denied or "nothing fruitful" came of the talks. ###

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