July 23, 2010
Three days before Pres. Benigno Aquino III’s first State of the Nation Address, he is yet to pay attention to women’s demand for decent and secured housing especially for the urban poor. Up until now, no concrete reply has been made by his administration, thus militant women of GABRIELA troop to National Housing Authority today to push further the said demand and to exact concrete blueprint of the government over it.
GABRIELA’s secretary general Lana Linaban cites that majority of Filipino family is denied their right to decent housing as housing service in the country has long been privatized. “In the National Capital Region alone, 69 of 100 families do not own their houses. They either rent or occupy areas without consent,” Linaban lamented.
This dismal condition is even worsened by large-scale demolitions of urban poor communities. The most notable of which, according to data from IBON Foundation, is the Northrail-Southrail Linkage Project which is estimated to displace 150,000 families by the time it is finished.
“Where now do these displaced families go? With a measly token of 0.35% of the national budget on housing, displaced communities are transferred to “relocation areas” identified and designated by the government. Most unfortunately, these areas, aside from being devoid of economic viability for the relocated to survive, are not safe and without contingency plans,” Linaban continued.
GABRIELA cites as an example the fate of those displaced to relocation areas in Towerville, San Jose del Monte, Bulacan. After being uprooted from their place of origin, they were re-planted to Barangay Bagong Silangan, a relocation site in Quezon City. When Typhoon Ondoy took place, flood ravaged and exposed them to all forms of perils. They were again relocated—to a worse site in Bulacan.
“It is difficult enough to be displaced once, it is catastrophic the second time around. The Towerville relocation site displays government’s negligence. The place has no suitable facilities and access to utilities and its condition is comparable to that of a desert settlement ill-fitted for humans to live.”
Thus, if Aquino is serious on his promise of giving sufficient, substantial basic services to the people, GABRIELA call on him to re-align the national budget away from debt and military defense. The new government should know that the only way to deliver efficient services on housing is through adequate funding that should be handled competently by the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council, now under Vice-President Jejomar Binay.
“We also take VP Binay to task on his stand that a government should be responsible for the social wellbeing of its people. He must do away with the past housing czar like VP de Castro who favored private developers and condoned corruption which worsens the plight of housing programs in the country. The election is over, enough of promises. It is now high time for Aquino’s administration to make good of all its promises because the women and the rest of the Filipino people would exact no less. On his first SONA, we urge him to lay down on the table his response to this urgent matter,” Linaban concluded.
Lana Linaban, Secretary General, GABRIELA