Friday, August 5, 2016

On the SONA: Urban poor groups welcome ‘no demolitions,’ root causes of poverty still to be addressed

Streamer hanging for the Peace Talks right before the SONA

News Release

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. 

Rehabilitation services, not killings for poor drug victims asserts KADAMAY

News Release

July 14, 2016

Reference: Michael Beltran, KADAMAY Media Officer – 09061892288, Gloria Arellano, KADAMAY Chairperson 09213927475

In light of the recent spike in the number of drug related killings, Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap spoke out against the further victimization of poor Filipinos in the name of the administration’s anti-drug war. The group stressed that the issue must not entirely taken as a question of criminality but of health and the status of health services afforded to the poorest sections of the country. They maintained however that big drug cartels and officials involved in these anti-social practices should be put to justice as profiteering and exploiting the vulnerability of poor communities towards abusive drugs has become rampant.

Gloria “Ka Bea” Arellano, KADAMAY Chairperson explained that “Many victims of drug abuse living in poor communities turn to drugs to either escape from the harsh realities of their lives or for them to cope with the working conditions they face. Instead of killings and deciding their entire lives are wastes of space, the government should offer them space to be more productive. Drug addiction and abuse is a disease which can be cured. Services are grossly lacking, especially in terms of rehabilitation. While higher standards of living afforded to poor Filipinos through jobs and decent wages plays a large role as well.”

According to reports, around 140 have been killed through operations conducted by the authorities and vigilante citizens. KADAMAY also expressed concern over the rise in vigilante justice, which can be unregulated, arbitrary and harm many innocent civilians. In other words, human rights should not be violated in the name of the Duterte’s campaign. For the group, it is counter-productive and will deter the change needed in the country which they say should be founded upon the recognition of the basic needs and rights of people.

“Totoo naming may mga kababayan tayong minsa’y gumagamit ng droga para maibsan ang hirap ng buhay na dinadanas. Minsan nama’y mayroon iyung mga gumagamit ng droga para makapagpatuloy sa trabaho o makapasada na lampas sa takdang oras para lamang matustusan ang pangangailangan ng pamilya. Pinakabulnerable ang mahihirap sa paglaganap ng droga dahil sa paglaganap din ng kahirapan. Biktima sila na dapat tulungan hindi tugisin” said the urban poor leader.

The group challenged the administration to devise better ways in dealing with the proliferation of drugs at the community levels. They said that barangay health centers should be armed with adequate drug intervention mechanisms and harm reduction. Arellano said that spreading fear and intimidation amidst the populace can still spur the syndicates to find new ways while the cycle of violence continues. She added that the ‘root causes of the problem should be weeded out’ and that improving the lives of the poor through education and basic social services will go a long way. ###


Wednesday, April 27, 2016

High poverty incidence in Ph shows 4Ps defective

Urban poor group Kalipunan ng Damayang claims that recent Social Weather Stations surveys citing almost unchanged poverty incidence in the country over the last decade only proves that the flagship anti-poverty program of the Aquino administration, the Pantawid Pamilyang Program (4Ps), is defective.

The group also claims that the program has only bred mendicancy among its poor beneficiaries and made them highly susceptible to political patronage. An estimated 52 percent of Filipino families, or 10.6 million, consider themselves poor, according to the March SWS survey. The results are slightly lower than the December 2012 self-poverty survey that showed 10.9 million families, or 54 percent, saying they were poor.

Unchanged Poverty

A conservative census of National Statistical Coordination Board meanwhile cites that the July 2012 poverty rate of 27.9 percent is practically unchanged from 2006 and 2009. The 4Ps was pre-pilot tested under the Arroyo administration in selects cities and municipalities in 2007. Under the Aquino administration, the number of beneficiary households enrolled in the 4Ps grew from less than 800,000 in 2010 to 4.4 million in 2015.

The budget allocation likewise increased from P10 billion in 2010 to about P62.7 billion in 2016, making the 4Ps easily the centerpiece program of the P-Noy presidency.This year, the program seeks to enlist another 200,000 households belonging to the “near poor.”

Political Patronage

Gloria Arellano, Kadamay national chair, denounced all presidential candidates for advocating the expansion of 4Ps. She asked, “Despite its failure to significantly address the chronic poverty in the country, why are all presidential candidates espousing the expansion of 4Ps?”

Arellano also said that any presidentiable who wants to sincerely address poverty in the country will not expand 4Ps unless he or she is after political patronage.

“The country’s next top leader should instead implement the proposed P750 national minimum wage and ensure the creation of ‘real’ and decent jobs for the millions of unemployed Filipinos. Meanwhile, the long-delayed agrarian reform program can only address poverty in the countryside,” according to the leader.

“Unless these programs are done, 4Ps will remain as ‘pantawid’ or a band-aid solution to the ever-worsening poverty in the country.”

Kadamay also slammed the ruling Liberal Party for using 4Ps in mobilizing for its political sorties. On Monday, thousands of 4Ps beneificiaries in Metro Mania were deceived to attend a unity walk and gathering to pass the Conditional Cash Transfer Bill. The event turned out to be a gathering that endorses Mar Roxas and Leni Robredo, and popularizes the hashtag #4Ps4MarLeni.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Kadamay disrupts 4Ps Unity Walk, slams use of beneficiaries for LP campaigning

Urban poor group Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap or Kadamay trooped to the Alay Lakad para Isabatas ang 4Ps today. These Alay Lakad activities have been going on quite some time and have spurred media attention when reports came in that those who would not attend from communities would receive cuts in their Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Stipend. Beneficiaries from North Caloocan were present at today’s activity, they marched from Fairview along commonwealth and stopped at the Commission on Audit, Batasan Road and the UP Technohub.

Kadamay unfurled their banners at the activity slamming the use of 4Ps as an LP campaigning tool and a legalized vote-buying scheme especially in the grassroots. Reports and eyewitness accounts of beneficiaries being coerced into becoming machineries for the Daang Matuwid surfaced as well as discrediting progressive groups who have been critical of the program’s unsustainability.

Estrelieta “Ka Inday” Bagasabas, Vice Chairperson of Kadamay and beneficiary of the 4Ps said that “Ginagamit ang mga mahihirap para sa interes ng gobyernong Aquino. Panay kampanya ang iniintindi, walang pakialam sa tunay na kalagayan ng mga mahihirap. Kung ikaw ay beneficiary, wala kang choice kundi maging supporter ni Mar at Leni dahil kung hindi may banta na mawawalan ka ng stipend. Ginigipit at sinasamantala ang hirap nang kalagayan ng mga maralita para sa boto.”

She was referring to Noynoy Aquino’s time spent campaigning when urgent matters such as the drought affecting other poor Filipinos intensified.

The group also noted the program’s propensity for generating a greater debt burden that will be paid in full by poor Filipinos not covered by the program. Only around 25 million Filipinos receive stipends, not even all receive the full amount yet there are around 67 million poor at present according to the latest Family Income and Expenditure Survey.

Bagasbas added that “matagal nang hindi nagtagumpay ang programang ito. Lalo lamang lalala ang katiwalian sa iba’t ibang antas. Limos na nga lang ito ng pamahalaan gagamitin pa sa katiwalian.”

Coupled with recent COMELEAK fiasco, Bagasbas said that the elections is fast losing credibility and challenged COMELEC to investigate these matters further. They asserted that the poor should be safeguarded from these types of patronage politics.

Moreover Bagasbas explained that long term solutions must be implemented. “Marami sa aming maralita ay wala naming regular na trabaho. Iyung mapalad na mayroon, mababa naman ang sahod. Sa pangmatagalan, hindi kailangan ang 4Ps kasi dumadami pa din ang mahihirap at lalo na kung gagamitin lamang parang diktahan kami. Ang kailangan, regular na trabaho, dagdag sahod at serbisyong libre na wala nang kundisyon.”

Kadamay said that all of its forces will join the upcoming May one mobilization calling for a regular employment and an implementation of the P750 national minimum wage. ###

Sunday, April 24, 2016

“Make urban poor Filipinos a priority” demands Kadamay

Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap, a national center and alliance for urban poor concerns and campaigns was once again disappointed in the lack of discourse on the plight of millions of informal settlers. The last round of presidential debates tackled an additional heap of national questions yet failed to even mention the depressing state of housing and livelihood in the country. Millions are working in the informal sector whose homes are constantly at risk of being demolished which will in turn exile their families according to Kadamay.

“The massive displacement of poor Filipinos is not only vital but an urgent matter. Our disappointment is only offset by our demand for the issues of the urban poor and development to be addressed. Ever since we can remember, informal settlers have been treated as obstacles to development when in fact they contribute a lot to the economy and can do so much more. Jobs, wages, housing, on-site development and most pressingly an end to violent demolitions and commercialized housing in relocation sites is what urban poor Filipinos long for,” said Gloria “Ka Bea” Arellano, Kadamat National Chairperson.

While the group thought that positive steps were taken during the debate that confronted the trend of contractualization as harmful to workers, it remains to be seen how this will be handled.

“When faced with a glaring example of contractual work it is hard not to see the innate oppression it bears. However, we have yet to see concrete steps taken by any of the candidates towards resolving these types of working class issues. Mar Roxas and the Daang Matuwid in particular have aggravated the problem. The Aquino administration has pressed wages down and virtually institutionalized ENDO. Si Mar at ang gobyernong kumakanlong sa kanya ang mga nagpalago ng endo sa bansa. Kahit ang ganitong tapatan ay di ligtas sa kasinungalingan,” said Arellano.

At present the group was most worried about the state of demolitions nationwide after the election period. Traditionally, during the campaign there is an unspoken rule that public officials do not engage in massive evictions to safeguard their votes. What comes after is the problem.

“Mahal na mahal kami ng mga kandidato tuwing kampanya. Pero matapos ang botohan, itutuloy na lahat ng demolisyon, karahasan at pagtatapon sa aming maralita! Napakatagal nang ganito at dapat matigilan na. Sinasamantala ang boto at paghihirap naming para lamang kami’y palayasin at pahirapan pa lalo. Ngayon pa lamang hinahamon naming ang lahat ng kandidato na tumindig kontra-demolisyon at pabor sa tunay na kaunlaran ng maralita,” said Arellano.

Arellano also mentioned that even during campaign they were still demolition efforts in Quezon City and Cebu. Still she expects worse immediately after the voting. ###

Sunday, April 3, 2016

DILG encouraging further violence by awarding Police involved in massacre

Photo by Williamor Magbanua/Inquirer Mindanao

Urban poor group Kadamay slams the awards given by the Department of Interior and Local Government to elements of the Philippine National Police who were behind the massacre of at least 3 farmers in Kidapawan City yesterday. Meanwhile, it called on the Aquino administration to surrender to the respective authorities the police officers who committed the heinous crimes.

According to Kadamay Chairperson Gloria “Ka Bea” Arellano, the move of the Aquino government to award those who were responsible behind yesterdays’ massacre is a reflection of the brunt of the Aquino government. For years it has used fascist and bloody hands to quell the resistance of protesting Filipinos to its anti-poor programs.

“The massacre in Kidapawan City is reminiscent not only of the Hacienda Luisita massacres but also of the violent dispersals conducted by the police to quell the barricades of the urban poor against demolition of homes,” said the leader.

“It is beyond offensive and has basically encouraged further violence directed against famers and poor Filipinos everywhere” added Arellano.

Kadamay noted that under the Aquino administration at least 18 urban poor residents who were active defending their communities have been murdered by SWAT and PNP authorities.

Arellano reminded the public that once there had been an effort by late DILG Secretary Jesse Robredo to issue a temporary moratorium on the participation of elements of the PNP in violent dispersal of barricades. That was in the aftermath of a demolition of homes in Silverio Compound, Paranaque City, where an urban poor activist was shot dead by elements of PNP-SWAT.

“Late Secretary Robredo’s moratorium in the aftermath of Silverio demolition is a far cry from the actions of DILG Secretary Senen Sarmiento.” Arellano said.

“Only the ruling Liberal Party, where Sarmiento holds the position as the Secretary-General, and which now includes the wife of Jesse Robredo who runs for vice president, can stage such a fiasco that aims to deceive the public and to cover-up the brutality of the Aquino administration,” she added.

Kadamay on Monday will hold a big protest near San Juan Arena in time with the culmination of National Housing and Urban Development Summit which will ensue new sets of policies that Kadamay believes will only worsen the cases of demolition of urban poor communities and hasten privatization in the housing sector. At the same protest, Kadamay will also call on the Aquino government and the DILG to release farmers who were detained by the PNP and to arrest the policemen who were behind the recent killings in Kidapawan City. They will also call for justice for the 18 urban leaders murdered under Aquino.

“Poor Filipinos are the most vulnerable from state violence. They are not only victimized by massive impoverishment but by actual bullets,”

“The National Housing summit will only bring much more of this for the urban poor,” said Arellano. ###

Friday, April 1, 2016

Kadamay decries violent massacre in Kidapawan, slams Mar Roxas’ indifference

Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap (KADAMAY) denounced the violent dispersal of the peasants and indigenous people in Kidapawan City today that claimed 3 lives and left dozens wounded. Police and military officials opened fire at the barricades of the protesters who only demanded the promised assistance they needed in this drought season. Mar Roxas who has been campaigning in the area had said that he wants the matter investigated by the PNP and that the first order of business was to neutralize the situation.

“This is reminiscent of the Hacienda Luisita massacre that to this day has not been met with justice. We have no doubt that the LGU officials, police and military did this with the permission of Aquino stalwarts. These authorities and Aquino himself as commander in chief are ultimately accountable. Violence against farmers, those who feed the nation has escalated; if they are not put in the grave by massive hunger, they are met with bullets head on. The nation will not forget the massacre in Kidapawan,” lamented Gloria “Ka Bea” Arellano.

Kadamay also noted Roxas response to the matter as ineffective and the first step to sweeping it under the rug. He also expressed sympathy for the officers who were injured in the clash.

“Iimbestigahan ng PNP ang sarili nila?! This is a familiar track followed by those who want this issue forgotten. Expressing sympathy for police officers who were allegedly injured yet none for the unrelenting starvation experienced by peasants. The first order of day should be and should’ve been to feed our hungry kababayans! Roxas can only condemn violence but not its perpetrators whom he aligns himself with. Aquino and Roxas would much rather ‘control’ the situation even if it ends up a massacre,” said Arellano.

According to ground reports, one person was already confirmed dead. 30 farmers were reportedly wounded, 8 of them were hit by bullets in the neck, stomach, and leg while 22 were hurt by the brutal dispersal. As of writing, 60 were reported missing.

The group drew parallels between the plight of poor Filipinos in both rural and urban areas. Both of which have been promised various kinds of assistance however the end result is always violence, loss of life and livelihood.

“Poverty and murder are two of the worst forms of violence, and are regularly directed against the poor nationwide. We have hundreds of billions of pesos for CCTs and so called rehabilitation funds yet we are continuously met with truncheons, demolitions, goons and guns. The liberal fa├žade of the government is accentuated by its blatant fascist attacks on the people,” added Arellano. ###