By INA ALLECO R. SILVERIO
MANILA — Leaders and affiliate unions of the Confederation for Unity, Recognition and Advancement of Government Employees (Courage) recently held relief operations to help with victims of the fire that razed the homes of approximately 1,000 families in Barangay Central, Quezon City last week.
Co-convenor of the anti- Central Business District project (Contra-CBD) alliance Paolo Alfonso questioned the local government unit’s action in the aftermath of the fire that devastated the homes of roughly a thousand families in Quezon City.
“Instead of providing the residents with the materials and resources necessary for rebuilding their homes, the local government unit occupied itself with securing relocation sites for the victims of the fire. The aforesaid community is currently facing demolition operations to pave the way for the implementation of the Quezon City CBD project. The city government’s eagerness in relocating the affected families is suspicious because relocation will automatically result in lesser effort on the government’s part to demolish the affected community,” he said.
“As public servants, it is our task to extend assistance and support to the victims of the fire. It is in this context that we are organizing relief operations for the residents of Barangay Central,” Alfonso said.
Alfonso called on both the government of Mayor Herbert Bautista and the national government to provide immediate economic assistance to the victims of the fire.
“This is what the city government should do instead of using ilizing the fire a as a validation for the relocation of the affected residents. We oppose to the QCPD project which aims to dislocate not only national government agencies, but more importantly urban poor communities to make way for condominiums and business ventures for the benefit of multinational corporations and investors,” he said.
Based on various reports, some 16,000 families in the North and East Triangles and hundreds of employees of the Veterans Memorial Medical Center and Ninoy Aquino Parks and Wildlife are under threat of having their houses and offices demolished /displaced as both the national and local government transforms said areas totaling 250 hectares into central business district (CBD). The comprehensive infrastructure building and reorganizing has been called by the World Bank as ‘the center of gravity of economic developments in Metro Manila in the coming years.’
The P3 billion QCCBD project began in early 2002 after the Macapagal-Arroyo government issued Executive Order No. 106 creating the tripartite body called the North Triangle Development Committee. The said body was tasked to oversee the development process of QC-CBD, as well as study and resolve the problem of security of tenure of the residents in North Triangle – a 37-hectare property of the National Housing Authority(NHA) that is leased to the Robinsons Land Corporation.
Informal settler families occupy approximately 16 hectares of said property.
In the meantime, Santiago Dasmariñas, Lead Convenor of the CONTRA-CBD Alliance challenged the Aquino administration to fulfill its promises of genuine socio-economic reforms by junking the CBD project.