Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Urban Poor Echoes Pope Francis, “Defend the Poor and the Weak”

Urban poor groups held their 27th Kalbaryo ng Maralita (Calvary of the Poor) today reechoing the call of Pope Francis, “Defend the poor and the weak”. With them were members of housing rights organizations including Urban Poor Associates (UPA), Community Organizers Multiversity (COM), and different people’s organizations from Tondo, Pasig, Quezon City and Laguna Lake.

The group marched from Liwasang Bonifacio to Plaza Miranda led by 40 urban poor people simulating flagellation.


Kalbaryo reminds Philippine society that the suffering of Jesus in his passion and death are repeated today in the sufferings imposed on the poor by forced evictions, homelessness, hunger, landlessness, injustice, joblessness, lack of dignity and powerlessness.

Jennylyn David, resident of Manggahan Floodway, Pasig said, “we gathered today in a hope that with the call of Pope Francis to defend the poor and the weak, our government would listen to our plea. We plea that the government will halt/ stop evictions set on May 15 for the families in Mangahan Floodway and other urban poor living in danger areas to give way for the flood control-project.”

“We fear that it would lead to displacement of thousands poor families. We do not oppose the flood control project but we hope the government will understand our sentiments that while it is valuable, it must not come at the expense of displacing thousands of poor families like us already marginalized by society,” she added.

UPA data shows that the first three years of the present administration had the highest number of eviction cases compared with the past presidents. This shows that the President has more to do to fulfill the covenant he signed with the urban poor in March 6, 2010 at the Del Pan Sports Complex, Tondo Manila.

UPA pointed out that the land is the basic problem in resettlement matters as it is in all in-city and near-city housing of the poor. The government should now provide the land as it will be more difficult to do so as the years go by. We ask them to acquire resettlement land before they evict or plan to evict.

The flagellants shirts were bloodstained with the words of the poor people demands such as, provide quality education for the poor, end hunger, implement on-site housing and include the poor in the decision making that concerns their welfare.

At 9 AM Manila Auxilliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo led the mass.  
“Just like our Pope being consistent with his call to defend the poor, we believe that it is true that in housing and similar problem areas the voices of the poor come closest to being the voice of God and that we must listen to them,” Marlon Llovido, UPA senior community organizer concluded.

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, the poor will get 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-

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