Sunday, April 29, 2012

Tucuma residents appeal to Catholic Church for support

Press Release
April 29, 2012
Tucuma Federation

The residents of the depressed community of Tucuma in Barangay Merville, Paranaque City appealed to the Catholic Church for support in its land dispute. Leaders of the Tucuma Federation will meet with Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo, who also heads the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines-National Secretariat for Social Action, today to present their case and request.

“The social teachings of the Catholic Church put forward that people should be first before profit. Applied to our case, this means that the housing and livelihood needs of some 1,000 families are a priority over the private property claims of the Molave Development Corporation which wants to profit by speculation over a long-idled land,” explained Ramil Asturias, Tucuma Federation president.

Tomorrow a long march or Lakbayan will banner the call “Stop to demolitions, Housing and jobs for all.” Some 500 workers, youth and poor from Metro Manila and Calabarzon will lead the “Lakbayan para sa Pabahay at Trabaho” which will start by 3:00 p.m. at Baclaran Church and end by 8:00 p.m. at the Holy Trinity Church in Balic-Balic.

The marchers will stay overnight at the Holy Trinity Church then join on May 1 the huge 20,000-strong “historic” rally by the newly-formed Nagkaisa, which unites the country’s major labor center for the first time since the 1980’s. Among the eight major demands of Nagkaisa’s Labor Day rally will be reform of the socialized housing program of the government and a moratorium on demolitions.

Asturias will propose to Bishop Pabillo that the Catholic Church call for an extension of the temporary suspension of the demolitions ordered by DILG Secretary Jesse Robredo. The suspension will only last until the regulations on demolitions are assessed and affirmed. “We however want that the moratorium last until the socialized housing of the government is reviewed and reformed. The government’s housing policy for the poor is profit not service-oriented,” Asturias insisted.

Renato Magtubo, Partido ng Manggagawa chairperson, welcomed Robredo’s suspension of demolitions but also pushed for an extension. “Suspending demolitions until new rules are drafted merely scratches the surface of the problem. The government needs to address the root cause of lack of housing for the poor. The housing program is tied up with the jobs and wages policy. The low wages in the country, as attested by a recent report of the ILO, means that the poor have barely enough income for food much less rent or amortization on housing,” he said.

Magtubo revealed that the number of informal settlers was estimated at half a million families by a HUDCC study in 2007 while the housing backlog is assumed to be 3.7 million units.

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