|Streamer hanging for the Peace Talks right before the SONA|
July 26, 2016
Reference: Michael Beltran, KADAMAY Media Officer – 09061892288, Gloria Arellano, KADAMAY Chairperson 09213927475
Duterte’s first State of the Nation Address further unveiled his policy for demolition and resettlement of urban poor communities. Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap welcomes his assertion that relocation sites immediately require the proper utilities and industries to create jobs for a sustainable community. Many of our kababayans however have not been afforded this practice in recent times and were added to the growing number of homeless in the country.
Informal settler families in Quezon City, Cebu, Batangas and Davao have been tossed aside to the gutters in favor of big business and the interests of local government authorities. A government enabling the increase in the number of homeless people must be put in its place. Likewise, these cases require urgent attention and action.
What of the Urban Development and Housing Act? One the main legal justifications used when implementing demolitions. Arbitrary ground rules in favor of capitalists and LGUs, insufficient safeguards and an inclination towards profit instead of people make the UDHA a major concern if the ‘no demolition without relocation’ statement
Besides this, Kadamay maintains that evictions should be at the bottom of the list of options if we are to endeavor for genuine on-site and community development. Staying inside the cities and working through it is a matter of right that needs to be recognized and harnessed.
This can be done by rejecting Public-Private Partnership projects that has been the driving policy in much of the forced evictions of recent years. Throughout the world PPP programs have been adopted by neo-liberal technocrats and governments as a tool to oppress communities in favor of an injudicious development track. We urge the Duterte administration to do away with PPP projects and instead increase government participation in the delivery of services, including safe and affordable housing.
Amidst this, the root causes of forced evictions and migration to the cities have yet to be tackled. This is part of the People’s Agenda Kadamay along with Bayan and other progressive groups clamor for. National industrialization and genuine agrarian reform can heal and re-shape the entire country towards servicing the needs of the poorest sections of the population.
The cease fire declaration coupled with the impending resumption of the peace talks can work to building pro-people policy frameworks. In this are the basic tenets to carrying out meaningful reforms.
Kadamay was disheartened that this SONA failed to mention the administration’s vow to end contractualization. Many workers belong to the urban poor and are unable to craft better lives due to the lack of regular employment. Nor was there any mention of a significant wage increase, the P750 national minimum wage must be put on the table.
On the subject of drugs and human rights however, Kadamay asserts that all suspected criminals need to be put through due process. We call on both the PNP and the president to sincerely account for the staggering number of casualties for merely being suspected of drug related activities and the chain reaction it has stirred amongst the populace. Whether vigilantes or rogue actions of police, urban poor Filipinos are fast becoming the primary target.
We think it only right that Duterte exerts greater management or create safeguards for upholding due process on the ground as part of his commitment to human rights. Whether it be by re-orienting the police or better yet by tweaking his drug war towards combatting poverty in general. Rehabilitation services are part of basic social services and are the reality of needs that merits the current state of our country, it is a must.
We applaud other pro-people statements made by the president, such as his commitment towards the peace talks by declaring a ceasefire as well as his support for women and the Lumads. These can serve as stepping stones for impacting the change that the people want. However, there is still a long way to go. Kadamay will remain vigilant and active in organizing and mobilizing the urban poor for their demands.