Friday, December 19, 2008

Joseph and Mary's search for lodging dramatized at UP Diliman

12/19/2008 | 06:46 PM


video

Speech delivered by Chairperson Leila M. de Lima of Commission on Human Rights (CHR) upon receiving the "Urban Poor Person of the Year Award"

THE COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS OF THE PHILIPPINES

on the Occasion Organized by the Urban Poor Associates

Palma Hall, University of the Philippines, Diliman, Quezon City
19 December 2008

delivered by
LEILA M. DE LIMA
Chairperson, Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines



Magandang umaga sa inyong lahat.
In the past six months, we have gained so much ground in our fight to promote the right to an adequate standard of living and more specifically, the right to adequate housing. All the efforts of the Urban Poor Associates had paved the way for various forums and dialogues, where we have gotten the attention of the personalities who can most efficiently enact the changes that we need in relation to housing and forced evictions.

Patapos na ang binubuong draft amendments ng Urban Development and Housing Act, ayon kay Senador Noynoy Aquino. Pinag-aaralan na ng Korte Suprema ang aplikasyon ng Writ of Amparo sa mga kasong sangkot ang economic, social and cultural rights, pati na rin ang mga kaso ng iligal na demolisyon. Ipinahayag na ng Komisyon noong ika-6 ng Nobyembre ng taong ito sa Omnibus Resolution on Forced Evictions and Demolitions ang panawagan na pansamantalang itigil ang lahat ng demolisyon habang hindi pa nakabubuo ng panibagong patnubay mula sa Metro Manila Council sa pamamalakad ng sapilitang ebiksyon. Kamakailan lang, ipinarating ng Komisyon ang Omnibus Resolution sa United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights at lubhang sinusuportahan ng pandaigdigang komunidad ang mga hakbang itinutupad natin para sa karapatan ng mga maralitang nananahanan.

Maraming salamat sa karangalang handog ninyo para sa akin at sa Komisyon. Ngunit naayon lang na palakpakan din natin ang ating mga dakilang bayani sa Urban Poor Associates, na pinangungunahan ni Mr. Denis Murphy. Palakpakan din natin ang ating mga sarili, ang mga komunidad na ipinaglalaban ang kanilang mga karapatan sa pamamagitan ng pagbubuklod at hindi sa paraan ng dahas. Ang karangalang ito ay para sa ating lahat.

Hindi natin alam kung ano ang tunay na dahilan kung bakit hindi na natin nababalitaan ang mga malawakang demolisyon sa kasalukuyan. Ito ba ay dahil may nangangarap na tumakbo sa eleksyon ng 2010? Hindi rin natin alam kung totoong pinag-aaralan na ng Metro Manila Council ang mga panibagong guidelines para sa demolisyon. Sa mga nakabasa ng Omnibus Resolution, hindi natin alam kung nagbabalak ang Department of Foreign Affairs na irekomenda sa Executive Department and pag-iimbita sa UN Special Rapporteur para suriin ang totoong kalagayan ng maralitang nananahanan.

Sa ngayon, mas marami pang tanong ang naidulot ng ating pagtugon sa problema ng kabahayan. Kung tutuusin, wala pa tayong tunay na tagumpay na nakamit. Ang mga nawalan ng tirahan, wala pa ring makamtam na relokasyon at pabahay. Bukod sa Omnibus Resolution, wala pang LGU ang nagpahayag na ipinagbabawal ang demolisyon sa kasalukuyan. Sa ngayon, hindi natin alam kung kailan isasabatas ang panibagong UDHA, at kung matutugunan nito ang mga kahinaan ng naunang batas.

There are still many more questions left unanswered. While we wait to see if the enormous efforts of the Commission and the Urban Poor Associates will bear fruit, we must remain vigilant. Hindi maaaring mawalay tayo sa ating minumungkahing makatarungang polisiya sa pabahay. We should not waver in our effort to organize communities, to generate further support for the cause of protecting the right to adequate housing.

Pansinin ninyo kung saan tayo nagtitipon ngayon. Unibersidad ng Pilipinas – home to the brightest Filipino youths, the most active student movement in the country. It is home to the most diverse set of students, rich and poor, militants and moderates. The most open, exposed and compassionate minds of the intelligentia are here. The struggle to bring to their attention the conditions surrounding government efforts for urban renewal must be made known not only to the urban poor, but to everyone, and it can start here in UP. Maaaring kakailanganin natin ang mas malawakang supporta para sa mga mungkahi natin. After all, human rights are for everyone, and therefore it is of every person's concern to protect them.

There are many who turn a blind eye to the plight of informal settlers. Mga nagbubulagbulagan ba. Yet, how can anyone who cherishes his or her own rights not be concerned about the rights of his neighbors? Ang hinihingi nating pagmamalasakit ng ating mga kababayan ay hindi nakabatay sa awa. Nakabatay 'to sa kung ano ang makatarungan.

To those of you who are here today, the urban poor groups, to the students of UP, to the public in general, this assembly here represents not an appeal for sympathy, but a show of power - the power of collective action, the power of organized civil society, the power of collaboration between the government and its constituents, the power to bring change to circumstances that are not just, that are not humane. I ask all of you who are here today, whether you are part of the urban poor groups who continue to suffer from inhuman evictions, or part of the student community, or the general public, to stand in solidarity with us. I ask all of you to speak to everyone you know about the struggle to retain dignity in an age of modernity and so-called civilization. Hindi pa natin nakakamtam ang tunay na katarungan para sa maralitang nananahanan. For this reason, we must never let up, we must never be lulled in our own comfort, we must never stop supporting the causes that work to bring justice to every Filipino.

Adequate housing is only one right among a deluge of rights. And yet, to some people, it is almost everything that they can ever have, a humble symbol of their own dignity in a world infected with inequality. Iilan lamang sa kabuuan ng mga karapatang pantao ang karapatang magkaroon ng sapat na kabuhayan, sapat na kabahayan, mamuhay nang may dignidad. Ngunit para sa maraming Pilipino, ang sariling bahay ay siyang pinaka-simbolo ng namumuhay ng mayroong dignidad. It is such a small, yet important thing that we take for granted. For this reason, this deprivation should not continue for anybody.

More work has to be done. I ask all of you to be steadfast, patibayin ang inyong mga kalooban. We have not achieved enough yet. Gather your courage, gather your families, your friends, neighbors, gather your employers, your employers' children, gather your customers, gather people on the street... tell them what a failure Urban Renewal has been for decades. Tell them about the failure of our laws to protect the dignity of informal settlers, of ordinary Filipinos. Tell them, so that they may know, and that they will someday join us in our struggle.

Muli, maraming salamat sa karangalang ito at sa pagkakataong dumalo sa pagtitipon ninyo. Thank you. Mabuhay po kayong lahat.

Urban Poor Re-enact Joseph and Mary’s Search for Shelter

** NEWS RELEASE *** NEWS RELEASE *** NEWS RELEASE **

Urban Poor Re-enact Joseph and Mary’s Search for Shelter

19 December 2008. In celebration of their 22nd Panunuluyan, over 500 urban poor people marched this morning at the University of the Philippines (UP) in Diliman, Quezon City repeating the question asked by Joseph and Mary in Bethlehem: "Do you have a decent place where we can stay?"

Aside from the dramatization of Nativity story, there was also a Mass and the awarding of the “Urban Poor Person of the Year Award”, an annual prize given to the person who has done the most for the poor that year or in his or her lifetime.

The prize this year was given to Chairperson Leila de Lima of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR). The award cites Atty. de Lima for the “compassion, legal skill and courage” she has shown in defense of the urban poor people’s housing rights.

Led by children in angel costumes, urban poor people together with housing rights advocates marched from the Oblation to Palma Hall of the UP College of Social Sciences and Philosophy.

Participants included old people, victims of demolitions, relocated railroad families, leaders of people’s organization, various non-government organizations, urban poor friends and sympathizers from all over Metro Manila.

On the steps of Palma hall, marchers were greeted by clouds of angels announcing the good news and prophetic trumpets.

The event is sponsored by the Urban Poor Associates (UPA), Community Organizers Multiversity (COM), Community Organization of the Philippine Enterprise (COPE), Urban Poor Alliance (UP-All) and Partnership of Philippine Support Service Agencies (PHILSSA).

“Panunuluyan exemplifies that what happened to Jesus is happening again to the urban poor now. The sufferings of Jesus are the sufferings of the urban poor today. Jesus had no place to live as a baby and at the end he was oppressed and killed by the powerful,” said Ted Añana, deputy coordinator of UPA.

“Basically the urban poor issue is the same as that of the farmers pushing for agrarian reform. Both are concern with land. The farmers need land to till while the urban poor need land to live on,” Añana explained.

There have been successes in the urban poor in 2008. According to UPA, there were fewer evictions during the last months of the year. UPA noted the efforts of the CHR particularly its Resolution No. A2008-052 issued last November 6 recommending the imposition of a moratorium on evictions and demolitions of homes of underprivileged and homeless citizens.

The following are some other victories the urban poor wish to celebrate this Christmas: Plans to evict everyone in Baseco, Port Area have been junked; Advances were made in respect to people’s housing rights and amending the Urban Development and Housing Act; the release of P300 million for relocation in Montalban of evicted families and the commitment of a large sum for similar work; preparation of Tanza, Navotas as a relocation site for the thousands of families who will be moved from the R-10 roadway; in-city or near-city relocation became the norm for evicted families rather than distant relocation to sites 50 kilometers and more away, according to President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo who also said relocation sites will be fully prepared before people are transferred; progress on the local housing boards in Quezon City and elsewhere have been made; there are no large scale evictions. Plans to evict the people of Del Pan and in other sites along the Pasig River and many esteros were cancelled. -30-

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