February 16, 2009
Alyansa ng Maralitang Pilipino
Some 300 residents of Longos in Brgy. Zapote 5 marched at around 9:00 a.m from their staging area along a busy street in the town of Bacoor to the City Hall. The protesters had a dialogue with the City Mayor and pressed the city council meeting later in the day to approve their demand for a relocation site and financial assistance.
Tonette Fajanilan, president of the Samahang Magkakapit-bahay ng Barangay Longos (SMBL), declared that “We are asking Mayor Strike Revilla and the City Council to grant to relocation and assistance to their constituents as per provisions of the Executive Order 708.”
Executive Order 708 stipulates that it is the responsibility of the local government to provide the support to displaced residents that are mandated by the Urban Development and Housing Act. The urban poor residents were victims of a court-ordered demolition last week from a private lot that is more than a hectare in area. The lot is owned by Pobre Aguinaldo, a former mayor of Kawit, Cavite who is related to the Aguinaldos, Abayas and Pobletes of the province.
“The government, both local and national, must assist the poor in this time of crisis similar to Barack Obama’s plan to rescue subprime homeowners who are burdened with mortgages and threatened with foreclosure,” appealed Fajanilan. SMBL is an affiliate of the Samahang Nagkakaisa ng Cavite (SANAGCA) and the Alyansa ng Maralitang Pilipino (AMP). Members of SANAGCA, AMP-Cavite and Partido ng Manggagawa-Cavite supported the mass action.
Renato Magtubo, PM chairperson, explained that “Demolitions such as that experienced by SMBL members must be suspended. A moratorium on demolitions and evictions together with condonation of penalties and interests on low-cost and socialized housing loans must be declared. The least that the government could do in a time of crisis is to refrain from destroying the houses and livelihood of the poor. The only exception to the ban on demolitions is when relocation negotiated with and agreed upon by the affected communities.”
A moratorium on demolitions and evictions is one of the five main demands of PM in its call for a bailout of workers and poor. The other demands are subsidy for displaced workers, tax refund for wage earners, expansion and reform of the state employment program and extension of Philhealth coverage to the recently laid off. ###