Wednesday, January 30, 2008

‘Have pity’ poor families appeal to PGMA in face off

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Have pity’ poor families appeal to PGMA in face off

30 January 2008. Backed by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), urban poor leaders will have a meeting tomorrow afternoon with President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo at the Heroes Hall in Malacañang where they hope to discuss forced evictions, inadequate relocation and land proclamation issues.

The meeting resulted from a consultation between urban poor groups and the CBCP held last week at the Pope Pius XII Catholic Center in Paco, Manila.

Archbishop Diosdado Talamayan of Tuguegarao and Bishop Ramon Villena of Bayombong offered to arrange a meeting with President Arroyo through the Office of the Religious Affairs in Malacañang.

Urban poor groups want a halt to forced evictions, specifically those done by the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA), and the preparation of adequate relocation sites for those who are evicted.

They want the President to condemn the practice of MMDA Chairman Bayani Fernando for his failure to relocate families he has evicted.

The Urban Poor Associates (UPA) eviction monitor for the first month of 2008 shows some 1,800 families have already been left homeless after being forcibly evicted.

A group called Task Force Anti-Illegal Demolition (TF-AID) warns of massive demonstrations in Metro Manila if their requests will fall on deaf ears. TF-AID was formed by various people’s organizations and NGOs such as Community Organizers Multiversity (COM), Community Organization of the Philippine Enterprise (COPE) Foundation, and UPA.

The group agree with the words of Manila Archbishop Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales in a sermon delivered to urban poor on the Paco Estero during the Feast of the Holy Family. “There should be no violence. No one should use violence. There should be no intimidation, no use of arms. We will obey, but we don’t want to be forced or subjected to violence. If government evicts it must prepare relocation sites. This is what we say, the site is prepared when there are houses, roads, light, water, schools for the children, and travel to work must be easy.”

Jose Morales, one of the urban poor leaders who will meet the President, said it is time to stop the social injustice being experienced by urban poor. “Panahon na para wakasan na ang pagiging berdugo ng maralita ni Bayani Fernando. Panahon na para igalang ang batas tulad ng Urban Development and Housing Act (UDHA).” Morales represents the Urban Poor Alliance (UP-ALL) and the Ugnayang Lakas ng mga Apektadong Pamilya sa Baybaying Ilog Pasig (ULAP).

Prescilda Juanich, a representative of Samahang Pinagbuklod ng Pagkakaisa, said she is excited because it is her first time to set foot in Malacañang. “Idol ko si Gloria, senador pa lang siya hanggang sa naging vice president. Pero ngayon nagdadalawang isip ako dahil pakiramdam ko pinapabayaan ang hanay ng maralita. Patuloy ang proyekto pero walang nilalaan na relokasyon sa mga taong apektado tulad ng road widening project sa R-10 Navotas ng Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH).”

“Labag sa batas at labag din sa inuutos ng Pangulo sa kanyang Executive Order 152 ang ginagawa ng MMDA. Utos mismo ng Pangulo, di sinusunod ni Bayani,” said Soti Sabarre, spokesperson of TF-AID. “Kung binabalak na maging presidente ni BF dapat ay tigilan niya ang mararahas at iligal na demolisyon. Kung hindi ay titiyakin ng mga maralitang tagalungsod na sa kangkungan siya pupulutin pagdating ng eleksyon.” Fernando has said he plans to run for the presidency.

The President proclaimed urban land for about 200,000 families 2001-2003, but almost none since.

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