Navotas urban poor under threat of demolition staged a noise barrage along Road 10 this morning as they demand President Benigno Aquno III to immediately halt the implementation of North Bay Reclamation Project, a priority project of the Aquino administration under its Public-Private Partnership program, and the eviction of thousands of urban poor from their communities near the Navotas fish port.
They also demonstrated against the destruction of their livelihood,as they claimed that off-city relocation being offered by the National Housing Authority (NHA) is a death blow to their families.
Before the presidential election of 2010, Benigno Aquino III signed a covenant with the urban poor promising to help informal settlers. But Elgar Cornista, President of Nagkakaisang Lakas ng Navoteno Federation, expressed anger over Aquino’s failed promises.
“So far, with only one year left in the presidency, he has not done anything for us,” Cornista said. “We call on President Aquino to release an executive order in favor of our demand of on-site housing for the urban poor. The demolition in our communities and the off-city relocation has to end.”
“We are affected by the road-widening project of the DPWH (Department of Public Works and Highways). Our livelihood comes from the fish port, at walking distance from our houses. This is why we are demanding that our houses not be demolished,” Cornista said.
Initially, government officials said that they would only widen the road to 13.5 meters, but their plans have changed considerably. Now they are widening the road to 27 meters. The road is part of the North Bay Reclamation Project, urban poor groups say.
“Right now, the NHA and the local government is forcing residents to leave their homes. They go house-to-house, and offer a relocation site in Pandi, Bulacan. But there is no livelihood there. In fact, those who have already agreed to be relocated came back, and just erected shanties again here near the fishport. In the relocation site there is no livelihood, no water, no electricity,” Cornista added.
According to Kadamay, under the Aquino administration, at least 70,000 families have had their homes demolished to give way to different PPP projects. Among them are the communities in Navotas City near the fish port.
Estrelieta Bagasbas, national vice chair of Kadamay, said that Aquino has not addressed the root of the “squatting problem” in the country. He said that the government should implement a significant wage increase so the urban poor can avail themselves of decent shelters.
“The implementation of a P16,000 national minimum wage for both the public and private sectors will allow the poor to avail themselves with basic social services, which the government should have provided its citizenry with in the first place,” Bagasbas stressed.