Saturday, December 14, 2013

From the House to the Senate

Philippine Daily Inquirer
Letter to the Editor

Urban poor leaders advocating amendments to the 1992 Urban Development and Housing Act (UDHA) visited the House of Representatives and Senate early December to hand over copies of a letter to certain legislators. In that letter, they thanked the lawmakers for legislation that favored the poor and asked for their continued support for the poor. They also sought their help to get the UDHA amended. The group believes that the proposed amendments to the UDHA will address and solve many present-day housing issues, including eviction.

Urban poor leaders wore the most decent clothes they had and brought their identification cards those days they visited Congress.

At the House, they were stopped by security guards. They told the guards that they had letters for Rep. Cresente Paez, the author of the amendment bill, and for 15 other congressmen who also sponsored it. Only four of the urban poor leaders were allowed to enter, the rest were sent away. When the four leaders were in the Congress canteen, the guards asked them to leave even though they were still eating. They ignored the guards and proceeded to bring the letters to the congressmen-addressees. The urban poor felt that they were treated like trash at the House.

In contrast, the Senate was very accommodating. They felt that they were welcomed with open arms by the institution. They were able to give their letters and felt they were greeted with warmth in the Senate offices they went to. Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano found time for them and assured them of his support. Sen. Bam Aquino, a sponsor of the UDHA amendments, acknowledged the efforts of the urban poor leaders in amending the UDHA.

Ordinary people appreciate being welcomed as friends by public officials.

—CELIA V. SANTOS,
advocacy officer,
Urban Development and Housing Act,
Task Force UDHA Amendments,
25-A Mabuhay St.,
Barangay Central, Quezon City


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