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. ###

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Kadamay hits inhuman violence at Culiat Demolition, cites QC Devt Plan behind it

Photo by Boy Santos

Urban poor group Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap (KADAMAY) hit out at the ongoing demolition efforts by authorities in barangay Culiat, Quezon City. The demolition started yesterday with residents vehemently refusing to have their homes torn down, prompting violence from authorities which included bombardment of tear gas. Seven children were badly hurt and immediately rushed to the hospital with trouble breathing.

Kadamay cited that the longstanding Quezon City Development Plan is the context behind this, aiming to supposedly transform the city to more commercial and profit oriented heights while displacing all urban poor residents. Hence it’s “Zero ISF (Informal Settler Families)” policy. They tagged it as a blatant discriminatory and dangerous policy towards the lives of ordinary residents.

Kadamay Vice Chairperson Estrelieta “Ka Inday” Bagasbas, herself a resident in the demolition plagued area of San Roque condemned the ongoing violence “It will be easy for the authorities and media outlets to paint the picture as a group of rowdy, uneducated, good for nothing poor people engaging in unwarranted acts of struggle against people just doing their job. The problem is as has always been, instead of providing adequate housing and social services the government like it should treats the urban poor like the plague that has to be eradicated. It reflects in the language of their policies.”

Residents of Barangay Payatas stage a community protest ang Quezon City Development Plan on Intenational Womens' Day

The group reiterated their call to stop all forms of demolition throughout the country. They stressed that it was counter-productive, both the investment in widespread demolition and future projects via the Quezon City Development Plan, its manifestations in the Central Business District etc. favored big business while discarding human capital and the productivity of millions of Filipinos.

According to recent studies, urban poor residents in Quezon City amount to around 42% of the population. That is 1.3 million residents at risk from the Mayor Bautista’s “Zero ISF” policy. Barangay Culiat in particular has around 10,000 households.

Bagasbas said that “I have seen this before in San Roque, Bistek and the local authorities were generally pushed back by the assertion of residents to their basic human rights. We never incite violence, we respond only by defending our lives. How would you respond if tear gas was thrown at you and guns were pointed in your direction? There is something obviously inhumane about targeting 1.3 million ordinary Filipinos and today barangay Culiat is in their sights.”

Basgasbas noted that the QC Development Plan was part of the framework of the national government to incite anti-poor policies in favor of big business and its cronies. She said that with the upcoming National Housing Summit on March 17, things will only get worse.

“We will combat the atrocities to be introduced by the National Housing Summit at all levels. At the moment we will send all our efforts to support the homes and livelihood of the Culiat residents,” said Bagasbas. ### 

Please see footage: 

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Group lauds status quo order on Balintawak Market closure, slams Bistek's Zero-ISF policy

Urban poor group Kadamay welcomes a recent development in a standoff between the the local government unit (LGU) of Quezon City and Balintawak vendors and other urban poor who work in the markets after the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City issued yesterday a status quo order on the closure of Cloverleaf Market.

On Monday, the QC RTC Branch 98 issued an order allowing, for the meantime, the said market to operate as it had before the closure order was issued by the QC.  The court scheduled for Wednesday(Feb. 3), a hearing on a petition for a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) filed by the Balintawak Cloverleaf Market Corporation against the cease and desist order from the LGU.

Kadamay national chair Gloria Arellano Arellano says that the said order is but a temporary victory for the vendors as long as the plan to demolish the markets in the Balintawak Area remains.

The group also discredits the claim of the local government unit of QC that Balintawak markets’ failure to comply with the environmental and sanitary standards is primarily behind the planned closure.

Arellano says that Balintawak vendors are well aware of the real reason behind the planned demolition of Balintawak markets. The leader says the implementation of Ayala’s Cloverleaf Project in the area is the main culprit to blame.

“The fact that a rich family will only benefit from the destruction of livelihood of more than 9,000 urban poor and their families has greatly motivated the resistance of affected vendors and other urban poor in the market just as seen in the past days,” says Arellano.

An initial investment of P15 billion ($337.68 million) over the next 5 years will cover the construction of 8 buildings that will include residential buildings, a regional mall, and a hospital.

The plan also includes transforming an old textile mill covering an 11-hectare lot for the construction of 7 additional buildings for office developments, additional residential towers, and more retail developments. This phase 2 of the project is pegged at P10 billion ($225.13 million).

“The collective resistance of Balintawak urban poor against the closure of the market is no different from the barricades staged by other urban poor groups in Quezon City against the demolition of their communities,” Arellano adds.

According to leader, this urban facelift is part of a city development plan under the Bautista administration that provides for creation five growth centers in Quezon City, including the Munoz-Balintawak growth center, and the full implementation of Zero-Informal Settler Family, also known as the Zero-Squatter Zone policy.

Meanwhile, Estrelieta Bagasbas, an urban poor leader from Sitio San Roque in QC’s North Triangle area says, the Bautista administration in years has been a lackey of Ayala Land Inc. and big businesses while it wages an all-out war against the city’s urban poor population.

Residents of North Triangle have been battling against the planned demolition of their communities since Mayor Herbert Bautista assumed the leadership of the city in 2010.

Another ALI project, the Quezon City Central Business District in the North and East Triangle areas of QC, primarily constitutes another growth center according to the city development plan.

“The urban poor of Quezon City should maximize its collective power to end the current apartheid-like treatment of the QC government to its urban poor population,” says Bagasbas.

“QC has the biggest population of informal settlers in the country at 232,430 families, more than 40% of the city population, and its voting population as well. Aside from bracing each other’s arms in defending our homes and livelihood, an enlightened urban poor population of QC can use their votes to evict Mayor Hebert Baustista from the City Hall,” says Bagasbas.

Kadamay since last year has declared a zero-vote policy for Mayor Bautista citing several cases of demolition of urban poor homes and livelihood in the past five years in accordance to its zero-ISF policy.###