Friday, October 30, 2015

Urban poor protest Cavite mayor’s intrusion into mass housing project

Informal settlers protest at GMA, Cavite municipal hall
Urban poor protest Cavite mayor’s intrusion into mass housing project

More than a hundred informal settlers in the town of General Mariano Alvarez (GMA), Cavite protested yesterday the interference of the mayor in a mass housing project being implemented by the National Housing Authority (NHA). The GMA residents held a march from their community in Quarry Hills in Barangay Dacin to the NHA office and finally at the municipal hall.

“We demand that Mayor Walter Echevarria cease and desist from obstructing the smooth completion of the housing project handled by the NHA that will benefit some 300 families in Quarry Hills. We call on the Mayor to allow the ongoing validation and verification of actual occupancy that is part of the NHA’s process for socialized housing,” asserted Jun Labrador, leader of the GMA informal settlers.

The day before, the mayor had ordered a stop to the validation and verification being done by NHA personnel at the Quarry Hills community. “We even heard from reliable sources that Mayor Echevarria  verbally abused the NHA project manager in his fit of anger,” Labrador insisted.

The protesters at the GMA municipal hall called on Mayor Echevarria for a dialogue but instead it was his daughter, Councilor Maricel E. Torres , who is running in the coming election as the vice mayor of his re-electionist father, who came down to meet the Quarry Hills informal settlers.

“We agreed to Councilor Torres’ proposal for a meeting of all the interested parties at the Quarry Hills site even as we insisted that such a meeting should not stop nor delay the ongoing validation and verification phase of the housing project,” Labrador argued.

Ramil Cangayo, chair of the Cavite chapter of the party-list group Partido Manggagawa (PM), which is assisting the Quarry Hills residents in their fight for housing rights, averred that “The LGU should not interfere in the project implementation since it is entirely the mandate of the NHA. For the LGU to interfere is to overstep its bounds and is tantamount to abuse of authority.’

He explained that the Quarry Hills informal settlers had already struggled too long to secure their tenure rights to the 3.7 hectare public land. “As early as 2002, the NHA had issued memorandum circular 1754 awarding the land to the informal settlers on Quarry Hills. In 2006, the LGU had already approved the subdivision plan for the onsite housing project. Justice delayed is justice denied. Kung totoo ang tuwid na daan, matagal na sanang nakamit ang katiyakan sa paninirahan ng mga taga-Quarry Hills,” Cangayao stated.

PM vowed to support the Quarry Hills residents in the ongoing dispute and their fight to secure affordable housing. “The protest yesterday is not the first nor the last. Tuloy ang laban hanggang maipanalo ang katiyakan sa paninirahan. Accessible housing for the poor is a key part of PM’s demand for sufficient social services. Along with our call for cheap prices of goods and utilities, decent wages and job security, these constitute PM’s Apat na Dapat platform for workers and the poor,” Cangayao clarified.

October 30, 2015
Partido Manggagawa

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