“These commercial establishments are better off than us, because land is being allocated to them.“
By JANESS ANN J. ELLAO
MANILA – Filipino urban poor groups joined the United Nations-led “World Habitat Day,” with a fervent call to the present administration to stop the widespread demolition of urban poor homes to give way to corporate interests.
“We join urban poor communities and housing rights activists all over the world in the call for Zero Eviction. It is highly ironic that on World Habitat Day, we will no doubt witness continued evictions and clearing of the streets in favor of land grabbers and corporations. Most of which allied with and/or enabled by the anti-poor and murderous Duterte government,” said Kadamay chairperson, Gloria “Ka Bea” Arellano.
The United Nations has been commemorating the first Monday of October as World Habitat Day since 1985 to reflect on the people’s basic right to adequate shelter. This year, the UN has focused on reducing solid waste in cities and recycle these for energy.
In the Philippines, however, Save San Roque Alliance, decried that the “opposite” of this describes urban poor communities who face constant violence and threats of forced demolitions instead of their safety and welfare being safeguarded.
The group estimates that the government will displace more than half a million urban poor families by 2020 to give way for its infrastructure projects. This, Kadamay said, makes the Duterte administration as the “biggest violators of housing rights of the urban poor.”
“These commercial establishments are better off than us, because land is being allocated to them. What we need are homes and land of our own. We helped build the city, and we deserve to stay here,” says Estrelieta Bagasbas, chairperson of Kadamay-San Roque, and vice chairperson of Kadamay.
On-site development for urban poor communities facing threats of demolition has long been their call.
Apart from housing, urban poor group also highlighted the various economic conditions confronting millions of Filipinos that make their living even more difficult. Those who dare to fight and resist are subjected to relentless red-tagging and other rights abuses, as in the case of the occupants of government housing in Pandi, Bulacan.
Arellano said, “Our struggle against evictions and for housing rights is interconnected with the fascism and attacks perpetrated by the Duterte regime. His all out war against the poor must be stopped.”