October 8, 2010
“No to evictions and Yes to adequate housing” were the words of Asian urban poor leaders in a press conference held on Friday, October 8, 9:00 AM at Tree House Restaurant, Matalino St., Brgy. Central District, Quezon City. The twenty-one Asian leaders in their native dress linked arms with Filipino urban poor as a way of solidarity against eviction.
This was organized by Coordinator of Leaders and Organizers of Community Organizations in Asia (Locoa), in cooperation with Task Force Anti Eviction composed of Urban Poor Associates (UPA), Community Organizers Multiversity (COM), and Community Organization of the Philippine Enterprise (COPE).
Jeff Wong, Adviser to Four Regions Slum Network in Thailand said, “Asian urban poor leaders and NGOs are here in observation of World Habitat Month, the time of year when urban poor citizens all over the world reassert their right to live in the city.”
“There are an estimated one billion urban poor around the world. In LOCOA member countries, as in most all Asian countries, the most pressing problem is the situation of forced evictions of slum communities. We are optimistic that through international cooperation we can enforce citizens’ right to adequate housing,” he added.
According to Task Force Anti Eviction, there is a trend in Metro Manila and its surrounding provinces, that when there is intention to evict a big number of families it is not accompanied by a comprehensive housing plan for the affected families. This manifests a disregard for the housing rights of the poor and must be given a second look by the present government.
“On the100th day of President Noynoy Aquino and in observation of habitat month, we urge him to look at the problem of the urban poor and study the plans of his administration in implementing projects affecting the poor. One example is the intended Ferry boat terminal project in Laguna which will lead to eviction of fisherfolk. But we are very hopeful that the President will heed the call of the people,” said COM training director France Clavecillas.
Philippine Task Force Anti Eviction and with the rest of 10 Asian country members of Locoa (Korea, Cambodia, Thailand, Indonesia, Bangladesh, India, Taiwan, Japan, and Burma) called on their respective national governments to declare a moratorium on evictions and include the “people’s plan” being offered as an option to be included in the government’s response to eviction threats.
Sadaruddin, a community organizer of Urban Poor Consortium in Indonesia, shared their recent success in resisting eviction. The provincial government passed a law in 2007 allowing the residents of Surabaya, united in the people’s organization Stren Kali, to do on-site development. He said, “There the slogan, ‘renovation not relocation’ was listened by the government.” Unfortunately, in 2009, the national government changed the policy regarding buffer zones along the rivers, so the communities are once again facing the threat of forced eviction today. Nevertheless, the people remain committed to continuing their struggle until they attain permanent security of tenure.
Felomina Cinco, president of Nagkakaisang Mamamayan sa Legarda and residing along the stretch of Estero de San Miguel said, “We are still facing eviction despite our persistent presentation of our proposed housing plan. But with the workshop together with other Asian urban poor leaders, we regained hope and were inspired by the experience of struggle of our urban poor friends in Stren Kali who, like us, are determined to carry forth with their fight for the right to carry out upgrading and remain on site.
For her part, Fides Bagasao, LOCOA coordinator said, “This event aims to strengthen the appeal of the Filipino urban poor to the new government to be a defender and promoter of housing rights of the poor, unlike the previous administration which was internationally notorious for its massive and often violent demolitions. We are all united in the goal of improving the quality of life of the poor. We will collectively work to ensure better habitat for today’s and future generations.” -30-