September 10, 2009
Alyansa ng Maralitang Pilipino
Some 500 urban poor residents living along the South Rail in Laguna, Batangas and Cavite, and along the coastlines of Manila Bay held a rally at the Makati office of the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC) and a dialogue with housing officials on their demand for decent housing and livelihood opportunities.
Romy Cabugnason, spokesperson of Alyansa ng Maralitang Pilipino (AMP), said that “Thousands of families will be displaced by demolitions along the Calabarzon areas of South Rail and Manila Bay to give way to rehabilitation of the railway and clean up of the bay. But the urban poor are not garbage that should be thrown away to give way to so-called development. There is no real progress unless there is social justice.”
The Calabarzon urban poor assembled at Magallanes in Makati around noon and then marched to the HUDCC office by 1:00 pm. They then held a dialogue at 2:00 pm with HUDCC officials regarding their demands.
The residents along the Manila Bay are asking for in-city relocation, alternative forms of fishing for livelihood, and financial assistance for relocation, livelihood and social services. While the demands of the urban poor along the South Rail line are the release of the funds meant for relocatees, sale to informal settlers of the Philippine National Railroad lands that will not be used in the rehabilitation, and representation in the inter-agency committee on relocation.
Members of Alyansa ng Mamamayan na Apektado ng Road 1 (AMAR-1), Samahang Mamamayan Naninirahan sa Riles ng Calabarzon (SMPRC) and Partido ng Manggagawa joined AMP in the march, rally and dialogue. The protesters came from the towns of Calamba, Los Baños and Bae in Laguna, Sto. Tomas and Tanauan in Batangas, and Bacoor, Kawit, Cavite City, Rosario and Tanza in Cavite.
Demolition of fishing communities along the Cavite coastline of Manila Bay was supposed to start yesterday as per the notices sent to residents promting the urban poor to hold a rally and dialogue with HUDCC officials. Preparation for eviction of residents along the South Rail starting from Calamba are also underway.
Cabugnason explained that “We are merely asking for the social cost of these development plans that should already be factored into the project cost. The urban poor demands amount to only a small portion of these multibillion projects.” The South Rail projects costs more than P 40 billion with an allotment around P 1.8 billion for relocation. The government meanwhile recently allocated P 1.6 billion for the Manila Bay clean up, of which P 250 million is for relocation of informal settlers on open waterways in Metro Manila.