Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap (Kadamay) held its annual Kalbaryo ng Maralita to protest the much touted Housing Summit convened by the National Government and the worsening destitution experienced by Filipinos. Held at the start of Holy Week, it mixed the traditional messaging of Mahal na Araw with the demands of the urban poor. The protest gathered thousands at Plaza Miranda and marched through 4 stations that thematically depicted different struggles, from demolitions, commercialized housing, and low wages to the deprivation of social services.
The centerpiece of the procession march was a large 15 foot cross crafted by renowned artist Toym Imao bearing the aspirations of the poor for better living conditions and a serpent representing local and foreign capitalists along with patronage politics. Kadamay explained that the use of the Kalbaryo as a sign of protest manifested the continued plight of the poor and the ordeals they undertake in fighting for better homes, jobs and lives. They said that too often, the poor are glossed over as nuisances of society. It is tragic how they bear the brunt of oppressive policies and are still crucified for it, when in fact they are productive members of society struggling to survive.
“Kalian pa naging kasalanan ang ipanganak nang mahirap? Hindi ito tinadhana sa amin; may mahirap dahil may nagpapahirap! Public-Private Partnerships, demolition of homes, commercialized housing and corporate urban planning have ravaged our communities and lives. And now with the conclusion of the Housing Summit, we brace for the worst as the government plans to create more mechanisms to legalize, routinize and intensify violent demolitions whilst profiting from the after effects,” decried Gloria “Ka Bea” Arellano, National Chairperson of Kadamay.
The National Housing Summit is set to culminate on April 4, putting in place new structural amendments and additions to handling housing and the urban poor. Kadamay urged the summit not push through as it has left out its primary stakeholder and will only result in the further disenfranchisement of the people.
“The housing and urban development summit without the voices of the genuinely poor is a farce. It will only strengthen laws like the UDHA (Urban Development and Housing Act) that have legitimized widespread displacement and destruction of the lives of the urban poor. Ang UDHA ay batas ng kalupitang pasan ng maralita sa mahabang panahon,” explained Arellano.
The group cited the recent poverty studies of Ibon Foundation in relation to the 2012 Family Income and Expenditure survey which pegs poverty as having increased from 66 million to 67 million in 2015. This runs contrary to the analysis of NEDA and the NHA that only about 26% of Filipinos live in poverty.
Kadamay also noted how government statistics have a tendency to deceive in that their poverty alleviation programs aims only to lift Filipinos above a poverty line that is progressively being lowered, from P52 to P46 per day.
“What kind of measure of poverty is lowered continuously? The high prices of commodities and services being privatized have not lessened the blow to our stomachs and pockets, but done the opposite,” said Arellano.
Kadamay vowed to take to the streets again and set up a parallel summit to showcase the genuine agenda of the poor. They maintained that all this rhetoric of Urban Development is in the name of PPP and other forms of corporatization detrimental to the poor. ###
Reference: Michael Beltran 09061892288, KADAMAY Media Officer