QC urban poor slams ‘pocket demolitions’

By Jonathan L. Mayuga, Business Mirror

Posted at Jan 20 2013 09:23 PM | Updated as of Jan 21 2013 05:23 AM

 MANILA, Philippines -- Urban poor groups assailed Quezon City Mayor Herbert Bautista for allowing the “pocket demolitions’ of houses of squatter residents and City Hall’s reported plan to expand the Payatas garbage dump.

On Monday some 500 urban poor from Payatas communities organized by Anakpawis, urban poor group Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap (Kadamay) and the Alyansa Kontra Demolisyon (AKD) will stage the Lakbayan ng Maralita Laban sa Demolition to protest Bautista’s anti-poor policies.

The protesters will assemble at Urban Market, Lupang Pangako in Payatas B area and will have short programs at Litex Market and the House of Representatives in Batasan Complex before they stage the 10-kilometer march from Commonwealth to Quezon City Hall, where they will stage a protest vigil.

The protesters will also hold a picket at the main office of the National Housing Authority.

Leaders of Anakpawis, Kadamay and AKD alleged that Bautista is interested in expanding the Payatas dump rather than addressing the housing problem of urban poor families.

“This is grandmother of all irony. Imagine the priority of city government of Quezon City is to build more dump instead of building low-cost and pro-poor housing projects in Payatas and other areas in the city,” Fernando Hicap, Anakpawis vice chairman, said in a press statement.

Hicap said he was so dismayed with Bautista putting premium on the potential income to the city of the garbage contracts while allegedly ignoring the responsibility to help ensure decent, socialized and low-cost mass- housing project for the homeless and jobless communities in Payatas and other parts of the city.

“The garbage of Metro Manila and the millions of pesos it would earn from garbage contracts is the priority of the city government of Quezon City. This is very inhuman, highly revolting and totally reprehensible. We hope the city government would have a change of heart and put place high regard to the housing and social needs of Payatas people and other urban poor folks across Quezon City,” Hicap said.

Hicap said the Quezon City government hopes to develop and expand the Payatas dump facility, and it is engaged in pocket demolitions of communities.

Thousands of families in Payatas, Hicap said, are currently threatened with eviction because of the Task Force for the Control, Prevention and Removal of Illegal Structures and the Payatas Operations Group, which are tasked to enforce pocket demolitions to make way for Payatas dump expansion.

Meanwhile, Hicap said they expect more violent demolitions in the ensuing weeks because of an order from Malacañang to clear the main capital of some 100,000 families of informal settlers living along waterways and flood-prone areas.

Department of the Interior and Local Government Undersecretary Francisco Fernandez announced last week that the plan to clear six major waterways in the sprawling capital before typhoon season starts in June is meant to save poor communities from being washed away by flood during typhoons which are expected to hit more on the second semester of 2013.

The official said there were an estimated 105,000 squatter families living on the waterways of the capital. The 20,000 families—representing about 100,000 people—living in the six major waterways would be the first to be moved. He said forced evacuations will only be taken as a last resort.