MANILA, August 19, 2011—“Is it truly a budget for socialized housing or for demolition of urban poor houses?” asked the urban poor alliance against forced eviction and demolition, Alyansa Kontra Demolition (AKD) even as the government had announced that it is allocating at least P5.6 billion (US$131,795,711.43 based on the prevailing FOREX) for its housing project.
The statement was issued amidst the impending demolition in the Metropolitan Manila’s largest urban poor communities: Sitio San Roque, in North Triangle and Damayang Lagi Creekside Community in QC, Kadiwa in Navotas, and Soliman in Agdao District, Davao City. This week, AKD revealed that there were two demolition attempts in two other urban poor communities Manggahan-Kawayanan in Parañaque and Lupang Arenda in Rizal.
“This morning, residents along NIA Road in Pinyahan, QC are preparing against a major clearing of their houses to be done by Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA),” said Carlito Badion, one of the conveners of AKD, in a statement.
With the numerous forced evictions and demolition of shanties in Luzon, the Visayas and in Mindanao, AKD believes that the Benigno C. Aquino III government, just like the past administrations, had no concrete plans for the poor and the homeless.
“As the plans of the government to evict urban poor settlers continue with new threats being recorded everyday by the alliance, it only means that Aquino has no plan whatsoever of abating the countless human right violations and violence related to demolition, and bringing justice for the three community leaders who were killed in defense of their communities during Aquino’s first year in office,” Badion said.
According to AKD’s estimates, about 350,000 urban poor families will be left homeless as the demolition and evictions’ plans by the government continue. These demolitions and forced eviction of urban poor families, revealed Badion, is under the guise of “priority development projects” of the government.
While there were relocations provided, more and more families from the demolished communities are coming back to their old place for there were no livelihood provided for them and those basic utilities such as potable water source, electricity and good roads are lacking, if not, totally unavailable in the reclaimed and relocation sites.
“Recently, [the] Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) has released a study saying that onsite relocations are deemed more advisable, and cost-effective than building off-city relocations. The Aquino government seems to [have a] penchant [for] these far-flung relocation sites that obviously do not answer the housing problem of the urban poor for they come back to their old communities where they can at least earn a living. Therefore, we are asking the NHA [National Housing Authority]: Who will benefit from the P5.6 [billion] resettlement budget? The answer is obvious: it is certainly not the poor, but only the private developers of relocation sites,” Badion said.
The government is espousing the public-private partnerships (PPPs) in housing in order to address the bourgeoning housing problem in the country. However, for the urban poor group, Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap (Kadamay) PPPs will only make homeownership of the poor elusive.
“The government should first address the problem of joblessness, for it to answer the squatter problem in the urban centers. Furthermore, no housing budget will suffice, and end the squatter problem as long as rampant unemployment and landlessness in the countryside remain unanswered,” the urban poor leader said. (Noel Sales Barcelona)