Demolition in Pasig displaces 1000 families
◢ Beatrice Puente
Around 1,000 families were left homeless after the Pasig City government ordered a series of demolition in Manggahan Floodway from October 18 to 20. Some affected residents have been camping out since October 25 in Mendiola near the official seat of the president.
Most of those who are camping out are members of the urban poor group Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap (Kadamay) and its Pasig City local chapter Balikwas-Kadamay.
“Nandito kami sa Mendiola para manawagan na i-award na ang lupa ng Floodway [sa amin at mag-protesta laban sa] harassment na ginawa sa amin dahil pati ang aming mga karapatan ay tinapakan na,” said Weng Carlos, a Floodway resident who has been living in the area for 25 years.
Some policemen tried to take down the Mendiola camp a few days after being set. Classes have already resumed on November 6 and the camp disrupts the flow of traffic in the area, according to the police, also citing as a reason the country’s hosting of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit which will be held in Manila from November 12 to 14. The summit will be attended by different world leaders including US President Donald Trump.
“Nasaan na ang pangako [ni Pangulong Duterte] sa amin na pagbabago na kung walang maayos na relokasyon ay walang demolisyon?” asked Rowena Villano, a ten-year resident in the Floodway area.
The Pasig City local government unit (LGU) has given out a notice of demolition beforehand. However, the residents and the LGU have not reached an agreement yet when the demolition pushed through, which then prompted the clash between the residents and the demolition team, said Gloria Arellano, chairperson of Kadamay.
The residents were heavily outnumbered by the demolition team deployed by the Pasig City administration, said Carlos, recalling another encounter on August 31. At least 30 residents were wounded for defending their homes from being demolished while a total of 41 were also arrested and held in prison for several days.
Environmental and safety issues are the primary reasons why the demolition pushed through, said Elsie Trinidad, spokesperson of the National Housing Authority (NHA).
A 2008 Supreme Court (SC) resolution directs the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) and 13 other government agencies to rehabilitate the Manila Bay area where Manggahan Floodway is connected. The DILG, in effect, instructed LGUs to remove structures occupying the danger zones.
Though the decision was made nine years ago, the demolition only happened recently as the Pasig LGU and the residents underwent several hearings in the House of Representatives.
Pasig City’s move to demolish homes in Floodway was done in accordance to their duty which includes keeping residents safe in case a natural disaster comes, said Trinidad.
The residents argued that they were safe in their homes. In 2006, the Manggahan Floodway was declared a potential housing site under former President Gloria Arroyo’s Proclamation 1160. However, it was later revoked when Typhoon Ondoy came in 2009.
“Grabe ‘yung naging pinsala ng Ondoy so the earlier proclamation was revoked by Executive Order 854, meaning hindi na pwedeng [gawing housing site at tirahan ang area ng Floodway],” said Trinidad.
But the Floodway area was barely flooded when Typhoon Ondoy ravaged Metro Manila, according to accounts from Arellano. In fact, people who were affected even evacuated in Floodway, Arellano added.
“Ang demolition na ‘yan ay pagpapatupad lang ng kagustuhan ng mga kapitalista. Kung saan may mga demolition na magaganap, ‘yun yung mga pagtatayuan ng mga infrastructure at commercial establishment,” said Arellano who added that the government just wants to develop the Floodway area as part of its P3.6 trillion “Build Build Build” infrastructure program.
Some residents have already experienced the difficult situation of living in resettlement areas so they declined the relocation sites and monetary assistance offered to them. Most families who were previously relocated eventually came back to Floodway due to the lack of livelihood.
“Walang livelihood kasi sa relokasyon naman talaga, hindi binibigyan ng pagkakataong mabuhay [ang mga tao] at ‘di binibigyan ng maayos na serbisyo [ng gobyerno ang mga mamamayan],” said Arellano.
Two relocation sites are in Pasig City while another one is located in Tanay, Rizal which is relatively near to to Pasig, said Trinidad. A total of P20,000 will also be provided for by the Pasig LGU to those who will be relocated, she added. Aside from resettlement, another option is to avail of the P30,000 cash assistance for those who would like to go back to their province, Trinidad said.
However, many residents still refused to be relocated even to low-rise buildings located within the city. These structures are substandard and might eventually fall down due to the weak foundation, said Carlos.
“Paano ang kinabukasan ng mga anak namin kung ganito ang magiging buhay namin? Sana naman tugunan kami ng pangulo ng bansa,” Villano said, adding that neither relocation sites nor the cash incentive would solve the country’s housing problem. Even the NHA admitted that the institution alone cannot provide remedy for the perennial problem.
“There’s a disconnect between employment opportunities for them to afford decent housing. Solving the housing problem is really tied up to poverty alleviation and land use policies that would create lands in both the urban and the rural areas for housing,” said Trinidad. ◢
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