Tuesday, April 19, 2011

President Benigno Aquino III Asked to End the Calvary of the poor

19 April 2011. Women carrying a heavy wooden 30 feet cross led five thousand crowd from Plaza Miranda to Mendiola to ask President Benigno Aquino III to end their calvary as they re-enacted today the passion and death of Jesus Christ. With them were members of Task Force Anti-Eviction (TFAE) including Urban Poor Associates (UPA), Community Organizers Multiversity (COM), and Community Organization of the Philippine Enterprise Foundation (COPE).

Photo Slide-show:

This Lenten season marked the 25th year of Kalbaryo ng Maralitang Tagalungsod. “Kalbaryo” shows that the sufferings and death of Jesus are repeated in the sufferings of the poor, and his resurrection is repeated in the efforts of the poor to free themselves from the scourge of poverty.




(Videos of the Calvary were also posted on Maypaki's blog. Just click here.)

Felomina Cinco, president of Nagkakaisang Mamamayan ng Legarda said, “25 years of Kalbaryo we are still poor. We are still threatened with demolitions. We are still victims of injustices. We are still struggling to get the support of the government to give us land security.”

“We carry this huge cross even if it pains us because it is nothing compared to our day to day sufferings and nothing compared to the thought of losing our homes. This suffering is what we want the president to see because we believe he has the power to change our lives and so that he will realize that this is the time to act and solve the issues of the poor. ”

This year’s theme “Homes free from demolitions and resilient to disasters with secure livelihood and sustainable future,” reflects UPA’s 2009 study that every hour two urban poor families lost their homes and in a week 277 families were evicted from their community. In the same year, thousands of urban poor lost their homes due to typhoon Ondoy. Recently a series of fires broke out in urban poor areas.

TFAE said the government is just finding more and more ways to evict people or drive them away from the city, including the clean up of Manila Bay which will displace 129, 606 families. But the spirit of the urban poor never wavers because they know that the president just like a mother will play a big role to provide them with decent housing and a sustainable future.

Around 10 AM the group had their contemporary prayer, children performed manong pawikan, and the highlight was the reading of Kalatas which contains the results of the technical working group created by the president to study the concerns and proposals of the urban poor.

Written in the Kalatas are urban poor issues with specific solutions like the revocation of Executive Order 854 in Lupang Arenda; Building of Medium Rise Buildings to house informal settlers in Navotas Fishport; Implementation of a proposed development plan in Baseco; and implementation of the housing design by Palafox Architects in 5 esteros in Manila.

In the Kalatas the group asked the President to continue the moratorium on evictions and to issue an Executive Order about the covenant he signed during the campaign period on March 6, 2010 and the promises he gave in a meeting with urban poor and housing rights group last December 23, 2010.

In parting Jose Morales, President of Ugnayang Lakas ng Apektadong Pamilya (ULAP) said, “We utter everything through our prayer. All together we kneel and pause for a 2 minutes silence for our personal requests to the Lord. But all of us only want two things: a happy family and a place free of demolitions.”

Kalbaryo as a tradition has united the urban and rural poor in seeking to build a society of justice and prosperity for all. Anti-poor policies and strategies are still in existence, hence the continuous creation of slums in urban areas. If no serious action is taken, such tragedy will mean the poorest are getting poorer. The urban poor want a stop to government unjust actions. The Kalbaryo is a gentle way of reminding us of our obligations to our brothers and sisters. -30-

Kalatas (click image below to enlarge):

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