March 30, 2010
Poverty, hunger, homelessness and unemployment were highlighted in a “Kalbaryo ng Maralita” held today by militant urban poor. “There are more than 18 million urban poor out of 90 million Filipinos and their numbers keep growing due to migration from rural areas and grinding poverty in the cities. The social volcano will explode unless government on the grievances of millions of poor and hungry,” warned Renato Magtubo, chairperson of the labor party-list Partido ng Manggagawa (PM).
More than a 100 members of PM and Alyansa ng Maralitang Pilipino participated in the yearly ritual of “Kalbaryo ng Maralita.” AMP is a network of urban poor organizations in Metro Manila, Central Luzon and Southern Tagalog. The march started at 9:00 a.m. from Palasan along Sucat Road in Parañaque and ended in a program at the Baclaran Church around 12:00 noon. Some of the marchers carried makeshift crosses and wore symbolic crown of thorns on their heads. The program was conducted like a traditional “pasyon.”
The urban poor challenged the presidentiables to present appropriate platforms to address the demands of the urban poor. “We are tired of motherhood statements about ending poverty or fighting corruption as the root of poverty. We want concrete programs that will resolve the lack of jobs, lack of food, lack of housing and lack of earnings that plague the lives of the poor. These are the heavy crosses that the poor bear daily,” said Robert Labrador, an AMP. The group cited government estimates of some 300,000 homeless families living in so-called danger zones and thus threatened with demolition.
“Palasan is the starting point of the Kalbaryo because it is symbolic of the sufferings of the urban poor. The residents of Palasan recently had to endure a series of violent demolitions spearheaded by the Parañaque police and private guards of the Amvel Subdivision which is owned by El Shaddai leader Mike Velarde. Palasan reflects the eviction and militarization that plagues the urban poor,” added Romy Cabugnason, a PM leader in Parañaque.
In the Kalbaryo, the Parañaque police and Amvel guards will be caricatured as Roman centurions while Velarde will be depicted as a hypocritical Pharisee. After several demolition attempts that included arson and arrests, the residents of Palasan were finally evicted and their community buried under a meter of soil.
Magtubo asserted that “There are many more Palasans. There are millions of urban poor who survive but endure without decent housing. There are masses of Filipinos whose search for their daily bread is a matter of life and death. If their poverty will end, it will need a critical analysis that goes beyond simply blaming corruption and it will need the political will to implement redistribution of wealth and radical reforms.”
The former community of Palasan was situated beside the Amvel Subdivision owned by Velarde who recently admitted to proposing the controversial rerouting of the C5 extension road. The Palasan residents accuse Velarde of landgrabbing and being the mastermind behind the demolition.