Homeless victims call on the gov’t to fulfill its promise

A month after the violent demolition in an urban poor community along BIR road in Quezon City, homeless victims who now stay on the sidewalk of NIA road corner Agham road call on the national government to fulfill its promise of a decent relocation program.

Violy Espiritu, a sidewalk vendor and one of the victims said, the National Housing Authority is making it hard for the demolition victims to avail of the relocation program which the government has promised the residents.

Last October 16, more than a hundred families were violently evicted from the community. Their homes were torn down by some 200 demolition crew assisted by 700 police and SWAT operatives. The residents complained they were not informed, as the QC Task Force COPRISS have only presented the residents a notice of eviction dated May 30, 2011.

After the demolition, many families opted to rent a place to stay in nearby communities along NIA road and in Sitio San Roque. Meanwhile, those who cannot afford the rent were forced to build makeshift shelter along NIA road.

Twenty-three families are now living on the sidewalk without electricity and water supply and sanitary bathrooms. Some 26 families are also sheltered in a seminary in Quezon City. In a dialogue between the NHA and the affected families, the said agency has promised the victims a relocation program in Gaya-Gaya, San Jose Del Monte, Bulacan.

Espiritu condemned the local and national government for fast-tracking the demolition of their homes, while offering the residents with nothing as a replacement for their homes. She said the demolition a month ago has disrupted the schooling of their children as she complained about the dire state of living on the sidewalk.

“My family and I have only felt this subjugated under [the] Aquino [administration]. We never thought of living on the street, even in our dreams. We work hard to build our homes, but the government is so remorseless in taking it from us so easily,” said Espiritu.

Espiritu is cigartte vendor outside the National Statistics Office along East Avenue. Her husband is jobless. She still ponders on how they could feed her children once relocated in Bulacan.

“The NHA has promised to relocate us to Bulacan until the end of November. If they again failed to fulfill their promise, we are planning to reoccupy the vacant lot which we once lived at along BIR road and rebuild our homes,” she added.

False development

Estrelieta Bagasbas, national vice chair of Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap (Kadamay), and a community leader of nearby Sitio San Roque said, “The urban poor sector has been inpatient to wait for the reform programs of the Aquino administration. While development under Aquino’s Public-Private Partnership Program has only benefitted the big local and foreign businesses, thousands of urban poor had been homeless.”

Kadamay said not less than 16,000 urban poor families have lost their homes under the Aquino administration in the National Region. “It is a conservative estimate, only those that we can monitor. The number is bigger considering that almost every urban poor community in Metro Manila nowadays faces threats of demolition due to different development and infrastructure projects,” Bagasbas said.

The group added that around 1.4 million families are bound to be homeless upon the implementation of the first 14 PPP projects of the Aquino administration.

While the government remains heedless of the call of the urban poor sector for a decent housing program from the government, Kadamay and other urban poor groups said they are willing to do extra-legal measures including the barricade of their communities against the demolition rampage of the Aquino administration.

“The anti-people programs of the Aquino government force us to rebel against the state. We will react accordingly to the unabated attacks on our livelihood and homes,” Bagasbas said.

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