Historic Lakbayan ng mga Maralita: Breaking Away from Spectacles of the Political Elite, Gaining Grounds for the Genuine Empowerment of the Poor

December 5, 2016


Spectacles keep surrounding the political arena. The tales are limited to the battles between and among leaders; leaders who may not agree with one another on seemingly controversial matters. But the real stories of the people can sometimes go unnoticed, the plights of the common man as regards securing one’s shelter, food, humane working conditions, and other basic rights are, at best, left to the corners. Another recent attempt at winning this debate and battle for the support of the people was done through a resignation from a cabinet post of the vice-president herself. But, can the people gain from these political manueverings? Is it the poor who benefit from the rising tensions within the ranks of those powers that be?

Lakbayan ng Maralita coincides with government’s Urban Poor Week
The government’s urban poor week comes at a time when the conditions that seem to impoverish the people are ever more blatant. There are continuing demolitions, rising prices of basic commodities, decreasing of the poor’s capacity to consume, the fragmented police-oriented campaign against drugs and the violations of human rights along with it, the utter disregard for genuine land reform and the misguided thrust for furthering of the former administration’s macroeconomic policies of the neo-liberal flavor.

Three times KADAMAY and various urban poor leaders held dialogues with the HUDCC offices, twice with the NHA and once with the President himself. Yet there have been no significant of even initial steps towards addressing the concerns posed by the urban poor.

It is time for the maralita to demand its own agenda, its own voice, its own instrumentality of governance. Hence, we in KADAMAY call each and every one to take part in the historic Lakbayan ng Maralita para sa lupa, sahod, trabaho, pangmasang pabahay at karapatan, as people from the margins gather together to storm the streets of the Metro so as to voice out the concerns of the homeless, of the disenfranchised. The new administration cannot simply brush off these pressing matters.

In this light, we call on to each and every one who identifies with the essence of the term maralita to rise above the fragmented debates that seem to confuse the public, and gain grounds in terms of redirecting the debate to the real issue, that is, the need for advancing fundamental reforms.

The basic objective of the Lakbayan ng mga Maralita is to hold the current administration and its agencies such as the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council or HUDCC, the National Housing Authority (NHA) and other state agencies accountable for cementing the influence of the private sector over social housing. Additionally, the Lakbayan seeks to put pressure on the government to immediately stop the killings and violence perpetuated by the Oplan Bayanihan and Tokhang. Both of which seemed to have overlapped at the expense of poor communities and especially the lives of thousands of ordinary Filipinos.

Just days ago, a fire broke out in Pangarap Village, North Caloocan started by suspected elements of the military. This goes to show the continued fascist attacks permeating at various levels against the urban poor.

The administration must not delay the implementation of pro-poor reforms. Lakbayan ng Maralita is a showing off of force, an exhibition of the ability of the common people to govern themselves—a first step that can lead the way to many more victories for the maralita!

Our basic rights, our demands:
1. Free and mass housing for the poor
2. An end to contractualization and the creation of sustainable and regular job opportunities for the poor
3. P750 National Minimum Wage daily for workers in the private sector and P16, 000 monthly in the public sector
4. An end to Oplan Bayanihan and the killings espoused by the ‘War on Drugs’
5. National industrialization and genuine land reform as concrete steps towards ending poverty

Reference: Michael Beltran 09061892288, Gloria Arellano, National Chairperson – 09213927457