Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Manila Inter-Agency Committee to meet over housing woes

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Manila Inter-Agency Committee to meet over housing woes

7 August 2008. Following the urban poor meeting with President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, the Metro Manila Inter-Agency Committee (MMIAC) is set to meet this afternoon (August 7) to discuss housing policies and programs for thousands of urban poor families.

Various government agencies are expected to attend the meeting at the Conference Room of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) to decide for the fate of the revised executive order formalizing the creation of MMIAC and its directives. It will also tackle the list of 2,000 families for relocation to Montalban (Rodriguez, Rizal), inventory of other relocation sites and the biometrics registration of families in priority areas for relocation.

With the help of Archbishop Diosdado Talamayan of Tuguegarao and Bishop Ramon Villena of Bayombong, some leaders belonging to the Task Force Anti-Eviction met President Arroyo last August 1 in Malacañang to discuss the looming housing problems.

At the consultation meeting, President Arroyo instructed different agencies to realize her commitment to give shelter for thousands of urban poor families affected by evictions and demolitions.

The president directed the MMDA to prioritize the biometric system of profiling the urban poor families. MMDA will enjoin the Presidential Commission for the Urban Poor (PCUP) in doing the biometric system of the following priority areas: Santolan (creek) and Sta. Lucia, Pasig City; Sito Masagana (Military Shrine), Taguig City; Balintawak (market), Tatalon and Cubao, Quezon City; R-10, Tondo, Manila; R-10 / Fishport, Navotas; and Quezon Bridge, Quiapo.

The affected families of these areas have been demolished but without provision of relocation, according to the Task Force Anti-Eviction, an urban poor group formed by 3 housing rights NGOs namely Community Organization of the Philippine Enterprise, Community Organizers Multiversity and Urban Poor Associates (UPA). “Their structures have been demolished by MMDA or other government agencies and hence, these are families with pressing need of relocation.”

The group requested the president to transfer the affected families to Montalban. The subject property being requested is owned by the Home Guarantee Corporation (HGC). There are 5,345 homelots generated at the aforementioned property that have been idle for a long time. The group agreed with the president that the priorities for relocation are those families affected by the government infrastructure projects and those at the danger zones.

In a meeting hosted by the President last January 31, the government assured the urban poor group that demolitions would no longer be allowed unless there is a relocation site ready for affected families. President Arroyo instructed government agencies that there should be a social preparation period of 45 days for those who will be relocated. She agreed that in-city or near-city relocation sites should be considered a better option than distant relocation. Montalban, for example, which has been suggested by the poor as a relocation site, is willing to accept up to 100,000 urban poor families. An additional P4 billion pesos for socialized housing was also announced.

However, most of what have been promised did not materialize, according to Ted Añana, deputy coordinator of UPA. “Pagkatapos ng unang pulong sa presidente, kami’y nakipag-ugnayan sa mga ahensya ng pamahalaan upang maipatupad ang mga napagkasunduan. Masakit sabihin, sa aming pagtatasa halos lahat ng mga napagkasunduan ay hindi naganap.” Añana was recently appointed by the president as the permanent representative of urban poor sector in the MMIAC.

According to the eviction monitor done by UPA, for the past 6 months some 2,097 families have lost their homes due to demolitions. Out of the 2,097 families, only 741 families were relocated. Of the 15 cases recorded, 11 cases were done by MMDA. -30-

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