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Urban poor stage ‘calvary’ protest

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Staging a modern portrayal of Jesus's passion on Calvary, the urban poor called on government to stop forced evictions but instead provide viable resettlement areas for poor urban dwellers.

MANILA, March 27, 2013— Urban poor groups dramatized the plight of thousands of homeless people in Metro Manila by staging their modern depiction of the passion of Christ outside Quiapo Church in Manila. 

Dubbed as “Kalbaryo ng Maralita (Calvary of the Poor)”, the demonstrators on Wednesday marched from Liwasang Bonifacio to Plaza Miranda led by 40 urban poor people simulating flagellation. 

With them were members of housing rights groups including Urban Poor Associates (UPA), Community Organizers Multiversity, and other organizations from Tondo, Pasig, Quezon City and Laguna Lake. 

Demonstrators said “kalbaryo” reminds the people that the suffering of Jesus reflects in the woes imposed on the poor by forced evictions, homelessness, hunger, injustice and unemployment. 

They also said that today’s protest seeks to reecho the call of Pope Francis to “defend the poor and the weak.” 

“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,” said Jennylyn David, resident of Manggahan Floodway in Pasig. 

“We plea that the government will stop evictions set on May 15 for the families in Manggahan Floodway and other urban poor living in danger areas to give way for the flood control-project,” she said.

David said they fear that the project would lead to displacement of thousands of 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 said that the first three years of the Aquino administration had the highest number of eviction cases compared with the past presidents. 

This shows President Benigno Aquino III 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, it claimed. 

The group 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,” it said. 

After the demonstration, Manila Auxiliary Broderick Pabillo led a Mass at the Quiapo Church. 

In his homily, Pabillo called on the government to address the issues that lies at the root of the housing problems of the poor in the metropolis. (CBCPNews)


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