“Kalbaryo ng Maralita” held, brands Aquino’s Housing Program
Rated: PG or Rated: Pure Gimmickry
HUNDREDS of informal settlers from various waterways communities affected by the on-going government relocation program held a “Kalbaryo ng Maralita” in various churches in Quezon City and Manila before proceeding to the foot of Mendiola Bridge to dramatize their plight under what they claimed was the government’s “rabid anti-poor policies”.
The urban poor communities depicted the Crucifixion and Death of Christ (the 11th and 12th leg of the Christian Station of the Cross) in an untraditional fashion which was, punctuated with fiery speeches and cultural presentations. The first station of their Kalbaryo was held at the Sto. Domingo Church along Quezon Avenue.
Members of Kongreso ng Pagkakaisa ng Maralitang taga-Lungsod (KPML) were joined by contingents from relocation sites, as far as Towerville, and Sitio Gaya-Gaya in San Jose del Monte City and Sito Batya in Bocaue, Bulacan. The relocatees belonged to KPML affiliate, the Samahan ng Mamamayan-Zone One Tondo Organization (SM-ZOTO), which has been assisting relocated and urban poor communities since the darkest hours of Martial Law.
In their Kalbaryo, the informal settlers decried the Aquino government’s relocation program and called it, “Rated: PG or Rated: Pure Gimmickry”.
“Noynoy Aquino, Jejomar Binay and other housing officials are trying their hardest to make it look like a housing program, when in fact it is a far-cry from decent modern living standards, even for the poor. The government has been blaming us for the flooding of the Metro to justify the demolition of our homes but its true agenda is simply to bulldoze us to far-flung areas for us to rot to death. Aquino may have “saved” us from a danger zone, only to condemn us to a death zone,” said Orly Gallano, chairperson of KPML-NCR and Rizal.
Gallano argued that even if the government provides respectably decent houses, the beneficiaries will only be forced to abandon the units for the lack of jobs and livelihood opportunities for them to pay the P350-P500 amortization fee. “The alarming rise of reports of abandoned units, teenage pregnancy, sex-for-food and petty theft in relocation sites in Bulacan, Rizal and Laguna are glaring enough to conclude that the decongestion and relocation program has failed miserably”.
“The government socio-economic planners are not alleviating us from dire poverty but are simply wasting taxpayers’ money and only filling the pockets of profit-hungry real estate developers and corrupt housing officials. The crux of the matter is that the relocation program is not a state-sponsored social service but a lucrative business, managed by syndicates in government. What can be more shameful and exploitative than profiting off the poor,” Gallano pointed out.
The KPML believes that the government is guilty of having no heart for the poor for it unjustly and forcibly uproots the informal settlers from their communities, work and school, only to be dumped to areas without basic necessities and infrastructure such as schools, markets, day care centers, potable water, a steady supply of electricity and drainage pipes.
The most damaging, they say, is the lack of jobs or opportunities to eke a living. In order to do so, the relocatees will need to be commute daily or weekly to the jobs they left miles away, be separated from their families and in worst cases, commit crimes against property.
For Reverend Father Enrico Martin Adoviso, parish priest of Most Holy Trinity Parish in Sampaloc, Manila where the groups held the 3rd leg of their Kalbaryo, “Not unless the government comprehensively addresses the roots of poverty and social injustice, the gap of the country’s elite and marginalized is bound to multiply tenfold in a matter of years, and so will be the housing crisis in the country”.
The mild-mannered priest also appealed to the middle class to not bash the informal settlers for they are but also “victims of collusion of capitalist vultures and the corrupt public official eager to earn a quick buck”.
The KPML and SM-ZOTO also took a swipe at the other programs and policies of the Aquino government which according to them, “were crafted for them to remain poor”. These included the infusion of all seventy-two public hospitals in the public-private partnership scheme of the government.
Also mentioned was labor policy of contractualization, which allows employers to circumvent labor laws to avoid wage increases and additional benefits but more worrisome, servility to employers’ abuse just to make a living.
Both urban poor organizations pledged to join their industrial working class brothers in the streets on the first of May, the International Labor Day to push for economic and social justice.
Press and Photo Release
15 April 2014
For interviews please contact: Orly Gallano-0999-9550246
Kongreso ng Pagkakaisa ng Maralitang taga-Lungsod-NCR and Rizal
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