14 May 2012. Urban poor leaders have criticized Pasig River Rehabilitation Commission head Regina Lopez for confusing two issues: the health of the river and estero waters and the issue of what to do with the thousands of poor families living along the waterways.
Filomena Cinco, leader of the poor people along a segment of Estero de San Miguel said, “All people on the waterways want clean water. In fact they want it more than anyone, because they live next to the waterways. We will help Gina Lopez clean the waters. We are part of her River Warriors who protect the water.”
She said the difference between the Lopez and the poor has to do with re-housing the poor. PRRC and Lopez plan to put the poor in distant areas where there are no jobs, with the result people go hungry, return to Manila or divide the families—workers stay in Manila, while mothers, old people and children stay in the relocation site. This is sure to damage family life. Distant relocation promises greater poverty and suffering. The poor want to follow the example set in Indonesia and Thailand of constructing homes for the poor on the banks of river and canals allowing three meter easements.
Cinco said. “Lopez plans parks for the river banks. The people want people there. We want to stay on the esteros because we are near our jobs, schools and hospitals.
“The urban poor claim Palafox Associates one of the country’s great architectural bodies has developed housing design for the estero,” she added.
“Everyone wants clean esteros. Gina Lopez wants to build parks and relegate the poor people to greater suffering in distant relocation sites. The poor want to build houses on the esteros that will give the poor safe, affordable and attractive housing and allow them to keep their jobs, and hold their families together.”
The urban poor reminds President Benigno Aquino that he promised to help them and allow them to stay in the esteros in the Palafox designed houses.
The rest of the world finds solutions for their poor families living along canals. Why can’t we do it here? the urban poor ask. They believe housing the poor where they are makes good economic and political sense. It is first of all a cheaper solution than distant relocation, according to studies made by the DILG. Politically it will win the loyalty of thousands of poor families. The poor ask government to trust our people and architects. We can make gardens of the esteros where no one lives now. We can do both housing and gardens. To sentence the poor to relocation in places like Calauan is to hurt the poor in a very serious economic and social manner. -30-