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Sunday, January 18, 2015

Urban poor find a very powerful ally in the Catholic Church


Pope Francis has restored the dignity of the urban poor--Kadamay

A militant urban poor group said Pope Francis, through his homilies and public speeches, has restored the dignity and human rights of the urban poor. This as the Supreme Pontiff will end his visit to the Philippines with possibly the largest Papal mass in history tomorrow at the Quirino Grandstand in Manila.

"We could not ask for more from Pope Francis as he has restored the dignity of the urban poor who in years have been a subject of disgust and condemnation by the government and a significant portion of the middle and upper class, as we battle for our basic human rights in protests, labor strikes and in street barricades against demolition of their homes," said Gloria Arellano, national chairperson of Kalipunan ng Damyanag Mahihihrap (Kadamay).

The group said they have found a very powerful ally from one of the most conservative institution which is the Catholic church in the person of Pope Francis, in pursuing its aspiration to end poverty in the country and for a truly democratic society.

"We are really astounded every time we hear from the Pope concerns that we and other activist groups have been saying all the time, and which may have fallen to the deaf ears of the government and of the general public--about poverty, inequalities, social justice, corruption, and issues as concrete as employment and deprivation of social services,"

From a Papal speech that he is supposed to deliver in his visit to Yolanda-stricken province of Leyte today, the Pope "asks that the poor throughout this country be treated fairly – that their dignity be respected, that political and economic policies be just and inclusive, that opportunities for employment and education be developed, and that obstacles to the delivery of social services be removed."

Kadamay hopes that the Papal messages will be discerned by those whom these are addressed to, including President Aquino. "It's now up to the public officials, especially our national leaders, the church people and the Filipino Catholic heed all his teachings," Arellano said.

"May his words about the poor penetrate into the hearts of those who in the past have been critical of the urban poor and our struggle--from the politicians, the businessmen, including some media practitioners and some portion of the general public," she added.

The urban poor leader also remarked that after the Papal visit, the urban poor sector will be more vigilant in claiming for their rights from the Aquino administration, and will be more critical of those Catholics who will not live with the teachings of the Pope Francis.

“We are expecting that after the Papal visit, the church will be our closest partner in pursuing for decent employment, a national minimum wage and significant wage increase for all Filipino laborers. And church bells will ring to alert communities to unify against threat of demolition, as we expect the Aquino administration to as anti-poor and brutal as it has used to be,” Arellano said.

In his homily tomorrow, when he addresses possibly the biggest crowd to gather in the history of the country, may he hint for the ouster of President Aquino who in his almost five years of (dis)service has treated the urban poor as garbage and dirt that needs to be shoo away.

As Pope reiterated in his undelivered speech, that "Our treatment of the poor is the criterion on which each of us will be judged (cf. Mt 25:40, 45),"  Kadamay said President Aquino is the most anti-poor president in the history of the country, and that the Filipino Catholics will no longer be happy being ruled by a person shall live in hell in his afterlife.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Ilang grupo ng overpass vendors sa QC, nag-ingay laban Zero Vending Policy sa panahon umano ng Papal visit sa bansa


Sa ikatlong araw ng pagbisita ni Pope Francis sa Pilipinas, naglunsad ng pag-iingay ngayong umaga gamit ang mga kalderong walang laman ang mga maliit na manininda mula sa mga overpass ng Commonwealth Avenue sa Quezon City bilang pagkondena sa Zero Vending Policy na ilang araw nang ipinapatupad dahil umano sa Papal visit. Kasabay ng proteta ang pagtataboy din sa mga manininda sa Luneta Park ngayong umaga kung saan magdiriwang ng misa ng Santo Papa bukas.

Halos kalahati sa higit 300 maninidang apektado ng No Vending Policyna ipinapatupad sa mga overpass ng Litex, Sandiganbayan at Don Antonio ay mga Muslim. Habang ang natitira ay mga Kristiyano.

Dala ng mga maralita sa kanilang protesta ang mga kaldero at platong walang laman na simbolo umano ng ilang araw nang kagutumang dinaranas ng kanilang pamilya. Nag-umpisa umano ang pagbabawal sa mga vendor na maglatag ng paninda sa mga overpass simula pa noong ikalawang linggo ng Enero.



Para sa mga mga overpass vendors, hindi na nila kayang manahimik sa ginagawang pang-aabuso ng gubyerno sa mga maralita gamit bilang dahilan ang pagbisita ng Santo Papa sa bansa.

Ayon kay Diamond Kalaw, lider ng Sandiganbayan Vendors Association-Kadamay at tagapagsalit ng grupong Manininda Laban sa Ebiksyon at Pang-aabuso (Manlaban), "Bagama't iba ang aming relehiyon, kilala namin ang Santo Papa na maka-maralita. Alam naming taliwas ang mga ipinapatupad na patakaran ng gubyerno lalo na sa naging pahayag ng Papa sa mga opisyales ng pamahalaan na unawain at bigyang halaga ang interes ng nakararaming mahihirap na Pilipino."

Si Pope Francis ang masasabing pinakaprogresibong Santo Papa sa kasaysayan. Liban sa pagtuligsa nito sa kapitalismo at ang hindi pantay na distribusyon ng yaman bilang ugat ng malawak na kahirapan, nakilala ang Santo Papa sa paghuhugas at paghalik nito sa paa ng isang presong Muslim noong 2013.

"Kung batid lamang ng Papa ang ginagawang pagwasak ng gubyerno sa kabuhayan ng maralita para umano sa kanyang pagbisita, malinaw hindi magaganap ang anumang pagtataboy na ginagawa sa mga maninida sa mga overpass sa Commonwealth Avenue," ani Kalaw.

"Ilang araw nang walang makain ang aming pamilya at hindi kami makabili ng gamot para sa mga maysakit dahil wala kaming kita," ani Kalaw. Pero alam naming hindi ang Santo Papa at ang kanyang pagbisita sa bansa ang dapat naming sisihin, kundi ang mga abusado at kurakot na mga Katolikong opisyal ng pamahalaan na hindi marunong makinig sa itinuturo ng kanilang relihiyon.



Labis na nakakahiya na umano ang administrasyong Aquino sa paggamit nito sa kanyang pangalan at ng kanyang pagbisita sa bansa para lamang maipatupad ang mga anti-maralita nitong programa. Kabilang na dito ang No Sail Policy sa Manila Bay , at ng No Vending Policy sa Luneta Park kung saan gaganapin ang makasaysayang misa ng Santo Papa sa Linggo.

Kinondena rin ng mga manininda ang ginagawang detensyon ng gubyerno sa mga street children at ang pagtatakip sa mga maralitang komunidad sa mga lugar na madaraanan ng papa upang pagtakpan ang tunay na kalagayan ng mahihihrap sa bansa. Sa kasalukuyan ay nilalabanin din ng mga maliit na mininda sa Luneta Park ang pagtataboy sa kanila sa parke bilang paghahanda sa misa bukas ng Santo Papa. ###

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Urban poor groups set coordinated actions in time for PH Papal visit

Urban poor groups in different corners of the archipelago set a coordinated week-long protests and activities Wednesday ahead of Pope Francis' visit to the Philippines. 

The Filipino urban poor, estimated at more than 30 million and roughly a third of the country's population, are among most eager sectors to welcome the Supreme Pontiff.
 
According to Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap (Kadamay), a national alliance of urban poor in the Philippines, the said protests are directed against the Aquino administration with the intention of letting the Pope know of the criminal negligence and brutality of the Philippine government against the Filipino poor.


At least 60 urban poor members of Kadamay-Batangas staged a protest as early as 9am yesterday at the head office of Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council in Makati. They traveled miles to air their grievance against the demolition of their homes implemented by the authorities and on situation of urban poor in government's relocation sites in Batangas. The group later headed to Liwasang Bonifacio where they will stay until the big mass of Pope Francis in Luneta on January 18. 

Meanwhile, other urban poor groups in Cavite held church visits yesterday according to Evi Luza, chair of the provincial chapter of Kadamay.

Meanwhile, hundreds of relocatees from Rodriguez (formerly Montalban), Rizal held a candle lighting activity to welcome Pope Francis. According to Montalban Relocatees Alliance, the relocatees urged Pope Francis to extend their demand on the Aquino administration to act on the extreme unemployment and lack of basic social services in government's off-city relocation sites. They also ask the Pope to repreimand President Aquino for conniving with low-cost housing firms at the expense of the welfare of thousands of urban poor families.

In the Visayas, several urban poor groups attended a gathering of Yolanda survivors in Iloilo City yesterday morning. Led by Kadamay-Panay, the groups later staged a protest action outside the regional office of the Department of Social Welfare and Development slamming the criminal negligence of the Aquino administration on disaster victims, as well as the corruption of disaster funds.

In Metro Manila, different urban poor organizations in Quezon City and Caloocan City staged synchronized noise barrage yesterday afternoon inside their community as they called on their fellow urban poor to attend a mobilization on January 16, coinciding with Pope Francis' dialogue with President Aquino in Malacanang. 

Week-long activities

Since Monday, other urban poor groups in the nationa's capital have staged their own activities to welcome the Supreme Pontiff. 

On Monday, residents of Sitio San Roque in North Triangle area of Quezon Citry, who are popular for their barricades against demolition of their homes, held a Prusisyong Bayan as they paraded their Patron Saint San Roque inside the community. San Roque is the patron saint of the homeless and the wrongly-accused—a character which the Filipino urban poor can easily associate with, especially those who are demolition victims and those who stubbornly resist the demolition of their homes. 


The procession, according to the residents, is a means of enjoining Pope Francis to their fight against the Quezon City Central Business District, a Public-Private Partnership development project between the government and the Ayalas. Upon the completion of the QCCBD, at least 20,000 urban poor families in East and North Triangle of QC are to be evicted from their communities.

On Tuesday, a group of Payatas scavengers prepared a feast of pagpag (food recycled from restaurant leftovers) to celebrate the Papal Visit. They requested the Pope to to push the Aquino administration to ending the pork barrel system and other schemes that perpetrate corruption within its bureaucracy, as well as the privatization of public lands which is behind the demolition of our homes, and the privatization of social services in the country.

According to Kadamay, the urban poor are among those who are hit the hardest by the effects of neoliberal policies that are imposed upon the Philippine economy. The Filipino laborers are among the lowest payed in Asia and are suffering from chronic unemployment despite the pronounced economic growth under the Aquino administration. At least 13 million Filipinos are believed to be unemployed according to Kadamay. 

What the urban poor expect from Pope Francis?

In his dialogue with the President BS Aquino in Malacanang on Friday, the groups wish that Pope Francis will reprimand the president for not leading the country according to his 'daang matuwid' (straight path) which was his campaign platform when he ran for the presidency in 2010.

Kadamay expects the Pope, in behalf of the urban poor, to pressure the Aquino administration to implement a national minimum wage system for all Filipino laborers, significant wage increase, and end to labor contractualization and to the chronic unemployment in the country through genuine programs of land reform and national industrialization. 


Six million faithfuls to flock Luneta mass

On Sunday, at least 6 million Cathiolic faithfuls are expected to attend a mass to be led by Pope Francis in Luneta. According to Kadamay, majority of the attendees will come from different urban poor communities in Metro Manila, and other provinces.

“The urban poor have been searching for an icon of hope to alleviate them from their direst situation, and they are finding it in the person of Pope Francis. The Catholics are too lucky to have a progressive leader who is aware and even vocal about the ill-effects of capitalism to the world's poor population,” said Gloria Arellano, Kadamay national chairperson.

“But the Filipino urban poor are expecting more from the Pope, something that will translate his criticisms to concrete actions that will directly affect the poor even with the slightest change possible,” she added.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Manila urban poor prepare a feast of pagpag to celebrate Pope Francis' PH visit


Two days before the visit of Pope Francis to the Philippines, urban poor groups in Payatas, Quezon City, north of Manila, prepared a fiest of pagpag, a type of food that is handpicked from restaurant left-overs and a popular viand among Filipino urban poor.

According to Kadamay and Pagkakaisa at Paglaban ng Maralita sa Korupsyon at Sistemang Pork Barrel o PagPag, the poor are overwhelmed by the visit of Pope Francis to the country.

This as the Filipino people are battered by the worst crisis to hit the country in history mainly due to rampant corruption in the bureaucracy and the continuous attacks of the Aquino administration to the livelihood and socio-economic rights of the poor. Despite its economic growth, which is among the most consistent in Asia, the Philippines has been suffering from record-high poverty and hunger incidence among its populace.

For the welcome celebration, different viands of pagpag are prepared by the urban poor for the feast. They say, it's up to the Pope if he will eat pagpag, and it's purpose is but a symbol to show the extent of their suffering. They still wish that the Pope will find time to visit their community despite his busy schedule, as Pope Francis is known to divert from his travel itineraries,

Pope Francis will arrive to the Philippines on January 15 after his trip to Sri Lanka, and will have a dialogue with Philippine President Benigno Simeon Aquino III in Malacanang the day after.

“We request our Dear Pope to push the Aquino administration to ending the pork barrel system and other schemes that perpetrate corruption within its bureaucracy, as well as the privatization of public lands which is behind the demolition of our homes, and the privatization of social services in the country,” according to Normelito Rubis, spokesperson of the PagPag.



Meanwhile, according to Kadamay, a national alliance of urban poor in the Philippines, the urban poor are among those who are hit the hardest by corruption and the effects of neoliberal policies that are imposed upon the Philippine economy.

The Filipino laborers are among the lowest payed in Asia and are suffering from chronic unemployment despite the well-pronounced economic growth under the Aquino administration. At least 13 million Filipinos are believed to be unemployed according to Kadamay.

In his dialogue with the President on January 16, the groups wish that Pope Francis will extend their message to the president, so he will act according to 'daang matuwid' (right path) which is a popular campaign slogan of President Aquino when he ran for the presidency in 2010.


Photos by Dennis Sabangan/EPA and Bullit Marquez

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Mga residente ng North Triangle, naglunsad ng prusisyon bayan bilang pagsalubong sa Santo Papa



Dala ang kani-kanilang mga imahe ng patron ng San Roque at ng Sagrada Familia, naglunsad ng prusisyong bayan ang mga residente ng Sitio San Roque, North Tirangle ilang araw bago ang pagdating ng Santo Papa.

Hangad nilang iparating kay Pope Francis ang kanilang imbitasyon sa Santo Papa na samahan sila sa kanila pakikibaka laban sa proyektong Quezon City Central Business District o QC CBD na siyang nasa likod ng pagpapalayas sa aabot sa 10,000 pamilyang kasalukuyang nakatira sa San Roque.



Ayon kay Estrelieta Bagasbas, lider ng grupong September 23 Movement, nais nilang samantalahin ang pagkakataon para maipaabot ng Santo Papa kay Pangulong Aquino ang kanilang kahilingang ipatigil ang demolisyon sa kanilang komunidad.

Simula pa noong 2010, kaliwa't kanang demolisyon ang kinaharap ng mga residente ng San Roque sa pagpapatupad ng lokal at pambansang pamahalaan sa proyektong QCCBD, isang Public-Private Partnership sa pagitan ng gubyerno at ng pamilya Ayala.

​Higit sa 7,000 pamilya na ang nailikas ng gubyerno patungo sa relokasyon sa Montalban, Rizal at Bulacan. Ngunit halos kalahati sa mga na-relocate ay unti-unti nang bumalik sa San Roque matapos isangla o ibenta dahil sa hirap ng buhay sa relokasyon.

Sa Enero 15 ay inaasahang dumating sa bansa ang Santo Papa. Sa Enero 16 naman ay inaasahang magkaroon ng dialogo ang Santo Papa kay Pangulong Aquino sa Malacanang.###


Thursday, January 8, 2015

National Minimum Wage System (P16,000 kada buwan), ipinanawagan ng maralitang lungsod laban sa taas-singil sa tubig, MRT at LRT


Kalbaryo umano ayon sa grupong Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap (Kadamay) ang hatid ng kaliwa't kanang taas presyo at ng pagtataboy sa mga manininda sa bangketa na sumalubong ngayong Bagong Taon sa mga maralitang lungsod.
Sa gitna nito, naglunsad ng kilos-protesta ang mga maralitang lungsod ngayong araw para sa pagpapatupad ng P16,000 Monthly National Minimum Wage ng mga manggagawa. Dala ang mga timba ng tubig na walang laman, naglunsad sila ng pag-iingay sa hanay ng mga public commuters sa kahabaan ng Commonwealth Avenue sa tapat ng Sandiganbayan.
Nagtaas ng singil sa tubig noong Lunes ang Manila Water at Maynilad ng P0.36 at P0.38 kada metro kwadrado, samantalang noong Linggo naman ay nagtaas na ng ilang piso ang pasahe sa MRT at LRT.
Sa mga darating na araw, inaasahang magpatupad pa ng mas malaking rate hike ang dalawang water concessionnaire na aabot sa 9.8% na kasalukuyang halaga o P3.06 kada metro kwadrado dahil sa alternative rebasing adjustment Currency Exchange Rate Adjustment.
Ayon sa grupong Kadamay, hindi na alam ng mga maralita kung saan nila kukunin ang dagdag-singilin dahil sa nanatiling napakaliit ng sahod ng mga manggagawa habang maraming maralita ang walang trabaho. Samantala, nagpapatuloy naman ang atake ng gubyerno sa kabuhayan ng mga maralita kagaya ng mga street vendors.


Ayon pa sa grupo, nagsimula na rin noong Lunes ang pagpapalayas sa mga manininda sa bangketa sa Metro Manila kung kaya't marami na umano sa mga paninda ng mga vendors ang partikular ang mga nagtitinda sa bangketa at overpass kabahaan ng Commonwealth Avenue sa Quezon City ang nakumpiska ng awtoridad.
Wala na umanong masusulingan ang mga maralita sa ilalim ng administrasyong Aquino na sa halip na bigyan ng masaganang bagong taon ay labis pa silang pinapahirapan, ayon sa Kadamay.
"Hindi na nakakagulat na sa mga darating na araw ay tataas na naman ang tantos ng kahirapan at kagutuman na nararamdaman ng mga maralita lalo na ang mga nakatira sa Metro Manila," ayon kay Gloria Arellano, pambansang tagapangulo ng Kadamay.
Ang pagkilos ngayong araw ay bahagi ng malawakang protesta ng mga maralita kasama ang mga pampubliko at pribadong manggagawa sa All-Worker's Unity para sa P16,000 National Minimum Wage.
"Higit na napapanahon ngayon para sa gubyerno na itaas ang sahod ng mga manggagawa at magpatupad ng National Minimum Wage para mabawasan ang epekto ng pagtaas ng presyo ng mga batayang serbisyo," ani Arellano.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Spare fire victims from off-city relocation--Kadamay urges LGU


Fire victims in Bgy. Apolonio Samson in QC are temporarily staying in two covered basketball courts.
Photo by Adrian Ayalin

Urban poor group Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap (Kadamay) has called on the local government unit of Quezon City to spare from its off-city relocation program some 2,000 families from Kaingin Bukid, West Riverside in Barangay Apolonio Samson, Quezon City whose homes ware razed by fire on the first day of 2015.

This after Kadamay received reports from the victims that the LGU has started fencing the razed community which sits along a tributary of the San Juan River. The said river is among the 8 major waterways in the priority list of the Aquino administration for clearing.

"We have received reports that authorities are preventing residents from rebuilding their homes and that the enlistment process for them to transfer to off-city relocation sites in Pandi and Bocaue in Bulacan has already started.

In fact, authorities are as well persuading those who were not fire victims to relocate to Bulacan as well, and are being promised with P18,000 financial assistance," said Gloria Arellano, Kadamay national chair.

On Monday, Tadeo Palma, Secretary to the QC Mayor is expected to meet with the local barangay officials to expedite the relocation process.

"Forcibly relocating residents after a fire that razed their community and preventing them to rebuild their homes is a very opportunistic act. Sadly, this has been a practice of many LGUs in recent years.

"And it only leads us to believe that the incident, like any other fire incidents along waterways and in other urban poor communities in Metro Manila, is no different from arson which is the cheapest and fastest means of demolishing urban poor communities," said Arellano.

Kadamay has noted other similar fire incidents in urban poor communities along waterways in recent years since the Aquino administration announced in 2011 its plan to clear 8 major waterways in Metro Manila with informal settlements. 

A woman carries her pet to safety as an early morning fire engulfed houses made of light materials in a residential compound in Barangay Apolonio Samson, Quezon City, January 1, 2015. The conflagration which reached general alarm rendered 2, 000 families homeless and killed 3 residents.
Photo by Linus Escandor

Big fires have razed homes in urban poor communities along Manggahan Floodway in Barangay Rosario, Pasig City in Febuary 2012; in three barangays along Estero Tripa de Gallina in Pasay City in July 2013; and along a triburary of the Pasig River in Barangay Guadalupe Nuevo (Macda), Makati City in October 2013, and along a creek in 3rd Avenue in Baranagy 120, Caloocan City in April 2014.

"Thousands of residents along waterways in Metro Manila have been forcibly relocated by the government after a massive fire that razed their communities, for authorities have failed to convince residents to voluntarily accept the off-city relocation offer year after year," Arellano said.

Many residents resist to leave their communities as employment and livelihood opportunities and other basic services are highly inaccessible in government relocation sites outside Metro Manila.

“The mandatory relocation of urban poor settlers to off-city relocation sites should be stopped immediately, as well as the demolition of homes of the urban poor through fire and other violent means," she added.

Of the 60,000 families living in danger areas in Metro Manila to be relocated before the Aquino administration ends on June 2016, 40,000 of which living along waterways, the government has only relocated 9,344 families as of 2014 according to the Department of Interior and Local Government.

More than half of the P50B Informal Settler Fund has been released by the Aquino administration since 2011 through its controversial Disbursement Acceleration Program supposedly to fund the relocation of families living along waterways in Metro Manila.

Meanwhile, relocatees from different off-city and in-city relocation sites nationwide are set to stage synchronized local protests led by Task Force Relocatees, a network of urban poor relocatees organizations, on January 14, a day before the visit of Pope Francis to the Philippines. Kadamay will also stage synchronized protests in different urban poor communities nationwide on the same day.

The groups aim for the Pope to facilitate their demand on the Aquino administration which is to address worsening unemployment among the urban poor as well as the dire situation in government's off-city relocation sites.