Saturday, July 16, 2011

Urban poor hold own SONA, describe Aquino's first year as the worst for urban poor

NEWS RELEASE I July 16, 2011

QUEZON CITY--With only a week before Aquino's Second State of the Nation Address, urban poor leaders from Metro Manila hold its own State of the Urban Poor (SOUP) 2011 in Brgy. Old Balara spearheaded by militant group Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap (KADAMAY). Leona Zarsuela, the group's national chairperson, describes the event as an act to mock Aquino's poverty alleviation program as millions of Filipino families become poorer during his first year in office.

“Aquino's dole-out program for the poor makes no sense at all,” Zarsuela says referring to Aquino's Conditional Cash Transfer program that gives monthly allowance of P1400 to the poorest of Filipino families.

Recent SWS survey shows more Filipino families go hungry and become poorer during the first quarter of 2011 compared to when Aquino stepped into his office last year. On the first week of July, in the right time before Aquino's second SONA, the survey recorded a slight decline in self-rated hunger and poverty for the second quarter of the year. Government officials attribute the decline to its multi-billion CCT program.

“The situation is worse than during the previous administration. More urban poor have gone hungry, became poorer and lost their homes,” Zarsuela remarks accounting the widespread joblessness and the unabated oil price hikes that cause price hikes of basic commodities during Aquino's first year in office. "More than what the surveys and government report can do, we can testify to the severity and pervasiveness of hunger and poverty that the poor suffer under Aquino," the urban poor leader adds.

Aquino's Fascist Hands

Leaders from different urban communities that face demolition cite their own experience under the “fascist hands” of Aquino. “Not less than 7,000 families in Metro Manila alone were evicted from their homes, and were damped to far-flung relocation sites where their situation became worse than ever,” Josie Lopez says who come from Sitio San Roque in North Triangle, Quezon City.

Urban poor settlers from San Roque resisted a violent demolition attempt last September 23, 2010 and paralyzed EDSA for almost six hours. Some 10,000 families are to be evicted from their community to give way to Quezon City Central Business District, half of them were already relocated by the government to Montalban relocation sites.

According to Estrelieta Bagasbas, spokesperson of Alyansa Kontra Demolisyon, some 360,000 urban poor families are due to be evicted in the coming years of the Aquino administration to give way to development projects that will benefit local and foreign businesses under his Public-Private Partnership program. “Aquino's agenda for the urban poor is demolition and eviction from their communities. We have no place in his development plan.”

Drastic Paradigm Shift Needed

On Aquino's first anniversary celebration in Ultra, Pasig City, Aquino launched his 'Pilipinas Natin' program that showcases his 6-year Philippine Development Plan (PDP), a comprehensive socio-economic plan that shall materialize his promise of change for the country.

“We only see in Aquino's PDP policies that are anti-poor in essence, including his corruption-prone dole-out programs, regressive taxing schemes (taxing the poor more while giving leeway to the rich) and economic projects that will wipe out urban poor communities.” Zarsuela says.

“We expect drastic shift from the current framework of the Aquino administration in its handling of urban poor issues. We expect more humane urban poor programs, and realistic, immediate and effective measures in curbing poverty,” she adds.

“Come July 25, if we heard of the same dole-out programs and development projects that only benefit the local and foreign businesses, we assure him that our mobilization on his second SONA will just be the start of a fierce battle between the urban poor and the government,” Zarsuela warns.

After the event, the urban poor leaders lit torches and march to Luzon market to join the synchronized noise barrage of various organizations along the Commonwealth Avenue stretch as muscle-flexing for P-Noy's upcoming second SONA.

Reference: Leona Zarsuela, KADAMAY National Chairperson (09291825283) I Val Jayson Dimayuga, KADAMAY Media Officer (09126490392)

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