16 December 2010 (Thursday). Three thousand urban poor people marched from Carlos Palanca St. to Mendiola today repeating the question asked by Joseph and Mary in Bethlehem: "Do you have a decent place where we can stay?"
Young urban poor acted as Mary and Joseph led the crowd to Mendiola to remind President Benigno Aquino III that the poor are still searching for shelter. Through Panunuluyan they are knocking on the Palace door, asking the president to grant their request to meet him to discuss their pressing worries and to urge him implement the covenant he signed during the campaign period.
Participants include children, old people, victims of demolitions, scavengers, relocated railroad families, people’s organizations, various non-government organizations, friends and supporters.
The theme of this year’s Panunuluyan is “Si Maria at ang mga Mahihirap ay patuloy na naghahanap ng Matutuluyan”. For more than two decades, urban poor group reenacted the old tradition of Joseph and Mary going from place to place looking for a place to settle in and where Mary can have a baby with the modern problem of homelessness of the people.
The Panunuluyan is sponsored by members of Task Force Anti-Eviction composed of non-government organizations such as Urban Poor Associates (UPA), Community Organizers Multiversity (COM), Community Organization of the Philippine Enterprise (COPE), with the help of various NGOs and people’s organizations.
According to UPA, there are thousand of homeless families in Metro Manila mainly because of forced evictions, illegal demolitions, and other concerns such as lack of access to affordable housing, high cost of living, labor contractualization, rural to urban migration displacements due to armed conflict and graft and corruption.
“We are afraid that the number of homeless people will grow in Metro Manila and its surrounding areas, if the 300,000 families threatened with eviction will consent to be removed without adequate relocation,” said UPA Deputy Coordinator Ted Añana.
UPA demolition monitoring shows that most of the families who will be forcibly evicted are those living along the waterways and estuaries to give way for the rehabilitation of the Pasig River. But urban poor people living along waterways have had been proposing an alternative housing solution. They sought the help of Palafox architects who created a design of housing along the waterways that will not interfere with the cleaning of the river, and the people living on the esteros will have a decent place to dwell in the city.Añana concluded, “There are many efforts done by the urban poor. But it is just placed in a backseat. We have high hopes that the new administration will consider the proposal of the people and that the president will heed our call to implement the covenant he signed during the campaign period.” -30-