June 30, 2010
One thousand five hundred urban poor converged on Quirino Grandstand in Manila to witness the pro-poor President-elect Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III sworn into office. The people’s federation Koalisyon ng mga Organisadong Samahan sa Maynila (KOSMA) and Urban Poor Associates (UPA) brought with them a big tarpaulin containing the covenant signed by President-Elect Aquino during his vigorous campaigning this election period.
Marrietta Garino, President of Pinagkaisang Samahan sa R10 Manila and a member of KOSMA recalled, “President-Elect Aquino promised to carry out the provisions of the covenant if elected before a crowd of ten thousand urban poor at Del Pan Complex last March 6, 2010. We were flashing the laban sign and the dome was filled with big applause. Today, that he will become officially our president we consider this as our day because we know that he will implement our agreement including our security of tenure and moratorium on demolition.”
“We actively campaigned for him, we walked for him, we saved piso-piso for him, and we voted for him. We are very happy that for the first time in our lives we feel that we own the government and we strongly believe that the administration will not, in any way, oppress us,” She added.
UPA, a housing rights organization, observed that without political power in the city, urban poor groups are extremely limited. In the past administrations, urban poor did not have political voice, which made them less influential in urban decision-making. In the new government, people have high hopes that it will serve the people’s best interest through a participatory governance.
UPA Deputy Coordinator Teodoro Añana said, “There is a good sign that the new government will be on the side of the poor. We can see it in the appointment of Commission on Human Rights (CHR) chairperson Leila de Lima in Department of Justice (DOJ). De Lima is known for protecting the rights of the poor and she sincerely pushed for a demolition moratorium. We expect that there will be more pro-poor and reform minded people in his cabinet particular in housing agencies.
The Covenant puts an end to illegal forced eviction. It will not allow any public or private authority to evict families and leave them homeless in the street. It pushes for decent relocation with quality housing, adequate basic services and sustainable livelihood support.
It also calls for the review of all presidential proclamations to determine its implementation status; more Community Mortgage Programs; increase health and education allocations in the national budget; and increase in the housing budget and the extension of land tenure security by all means possible.
Añana concluded, “We at UPA have been fighting for the rights of the poor for the past 30 years. With the swearing in of Pres-Elect Aquino we entertain the hope that this can end the long and painful struggles of the poor. We and people’s organizations will work hand in hand with his administration to build a just society for all Filipinos”.-30-