A Memorandum to the President of the Philippines

Anonyme, Monday, July 18, 2011 - 07:18

Kampanya para sa Makataong Pamumuhay (KAMP)

MEMORANDUM FOR President Noynoy Aquino (PNoy)

FROM : Your boss, the Filipino people

SUBJECT : Your job evaluation and our recommendation

A year after your election, our deplorable situation hasn’t gotten better

It’s been a year since you’ve taken the job. We — the vulnerable, powerless and voiceless — chose you. Our choice was a choice for hope.

But you must see our still deplorable situation hasn’t gotten better: 60 million are poor, 22 million go hungry, at least 12 million are without jobs, and at least 2.5 million are homeless in Metro Manila (and more, as one major community here is demolished every month on average). These staggering statistics are more than numbers. These are men, women, children, families. This is us, your bosses. This is us, in misery. Something must be done.

While we appreciate your efforts to address poverty, we must point out it cannot alone be solved by the expanded conditional cash transfer, which benefits only 2.3 million families. Don’t be surprised by the survey which shows how we have become poorer and hungrier. Our experience and United Nations’ studies have shown that programs that target the poor are ineffective, expensive and unsustainable. Ineffective, because so many hover just above the poverty line and cross that line all the time. Expensive because the money spent targeting, overseeing and monitoring the program can feed more. Unsustainable, because it is financed mostly by loans from the Asian Development Bank and the World Bank which will be repaid as debts.

Let us listen to the voices of the poor. We want a social policy that helps all of us live a life of dignity: guaranteed and decent work, guaranteed and humane housing, healthy and sufficient food, subsidized water and electricity, and accessible, affordable, and quality education and health services. We strongly advocate for a universal, state-funded and rights-based social protection policy. We know that you are well aware of these but we would like to level off with you and our policymakers.

Universal means everyone is covered; this is particularly meaningful here where 70 percent of us are not employed formally and are therefore not covered by any social security program;

State-funded means it cannot be entrusted to private corporations which are motivated by profit; it means the government must take full responsibility for its people, not pass the buck to public-private partnerships. We pin our hope on the elected who are accountable to us. PPP policies weaken the government; we don’t want our government to be weaker, we want our government to do right by us; and
Rights-based means everyone is intrinsically entitled. Concretely, it provides geographical and financial access to essential services (such as water and sanitation, adequate nutrition, health and education, housing, life- and asset-saving information, and other services) and essential social transfers (in cash and in kind, paid to the poor and vulnerable to provide a minimum income and health security).

Social reform policy such as this is not enough. It should be accompanied by land reform and progressive taxation (so that social justice is served and some equity is achieved), cancellation of fraudulent debt (so that the money automatically paid many times over to the rich bankers can be used to fund the social protection programs), and reversal of trade liberalization and deregulation to prioritize domestic production and consumption rather than export-led development (so that we can develop a self-reliant economy that will sufficiently produce and provide for our needs), etc..

Let us learn from others’ experience. The ILO (International Labor Organization) and the WHO (World Health Organization) have cited the amazing effects of variations and combinations of social protection programs in Argentina, Bolivia, Botswana, Brazil, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Chile, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Ghana, Kerala (India), Mauritius, Mexico, Mozambique, South Africa, Thailand — mostly developing countries like the Philippines.

Let us listen to the experts. Even the experts agree with us. The UNRISD (United Nations Research Institute for Social Development) has said that it takes less than 6 percent of the GDP to provide all these.

Let us learn from your own past. Your firm position on reproductive health is admirable. The lesson is that political will more than matches up against strong opposition from powerful interests. Our recommendations are not easy. You will meet with mighty resistance. But together, we will counter them with the strength of our conviction and the correctness of our direction.

Mr. President, start the ball rolling!

- Approve the DILG (Department of Interior and Local Government) proposal, which was done in consultation with us, on demolition moratorium and on-site/in-city urban poor housing, recognizing that we, the poor alike, have the right to the city;

- Provide universal quality health care. This means automatic enrollment of citizens in PhilHealth and free access to public health facilities for all, including hospitals, but initially for this year, for the poor lowest two quintiles of the population. You promised to allocate 5 percent of GDP to health so that quality health care becomes accessible for all Filipinos. Jump-start the process by ensuring these steps are included and supported in the national government budget for 2012;

- Give decent jobs for all, and ensure workers’ security of tenure and the right to organize. Instruct DoLE (Department of Labor and Employment) to study and come up within six months with a proposal on guaranteed jobs and unemployment insurance;

- Ensure healthy food for all, but initially for all public school children. Instruct the DSWD (Department of Social Welfare and Development), DoH (Department of Health) and the DepEd (Department of Education) to study how to provide healthy food for all public school children throughout the school year, but for the coming year, provide at least one meal a day in public school;

- Ensure universal access to water and electricity to enable people to live well. For every poor household, the state must provide at least 9 cu.m. of water per month for drinking, sanitation, and hygiene and 50 kwh basic electricity for lighting, ventilation, and information purposes; and

- Expand further the pension program for all the elderly (65 years old and older). Old people in the informal sector who are not enrolled in any social security systems are especially vulnerable in their old age.

We believe that this is the best legacy you can leave us. This may seem like shooting for the stars, but we have a right to dream and with the correct use of your position’s power, see that dream come true – in our lifetime, under your watch.

Thank you, Mr. President, and more power to us!

The Filipino people

Kampanya para sa Makataong Pamumuhay (KAMP) is a broad, multi-sectoral, inclusive network that promotes social justice through transformative social protection. Our immediate demands are the deprivatisation and decommodification of essential services so that people will enjoy guaranteed jobs and livelihood; universal access to food, housing, health, and other vital services such as water and electricity; universal pensions for the elderly; and agricultural and unemployment insurance.

Reclaim People’s Dignity Campaign - Kampanya para sa Makataong Pamumuhay (KAMP)
Akbayan * Alab Katipunan * Katarungan * Kilos Maralita * Kilusan para sa Pambansang Demokrasya * Institute for Popular Democracy * Partido ng Manggagawa * RCPD * Sanlakas * WomanHealth

30 June 2011


Akbayan urges PNoy to implement moratorium on forced demolitions, launches signature drive

Akbayan (Citizens Action Party) today called on President Aquino to deliver on his promise of signing an executive order calling for a national moratorium on forced demolitions and to create a national framework for in-city, on-site relocation.

Akbayan also launched a national signature campaign to collect support for such measures to address the problems that face informal settler communities. Akbayan Representative Walden Bello called such two measures as the most viable alternatives to the off-site relocation policies in different areas of the country.

“We have to consider the fact that a purely off-site relocation policy has failed. Although it is not a comprehensive national policy, we have seen in Metro Manila that such measure fail for very obvious reasons. Firstly, most of the relocation sites are far from livelihood opportunities and basic services. Second, many of these relocation sites are either poorly built or don’t have any running water or electricity. In the end, most of those who opt to relocate to these far-flung places decide to go back to the city and return as informal settlers,” Bello said.

Bello said the recent tragedies that beset Davao city has revealed that it is often urban poor communities that suffer the most from climate change and other calamities such as earthquakes and fire. The death toll from the recent Davao flashfloods has reached to 30 with at least 15,000 more residents adversely affected by the flashfloods.

“There should be a sense of urgency in addressing the plight of our urban poor who are often forced to live near creeks and rivers thus making them the most vulnerable to any rise in floodwaters. What we witnessed in Davao City may only be a sign of things to come. We should expect more casualties unless we have a proper response to the plight of the informal settlers,” according to Bello.

Allocation of 20% of private development seen as one of solutions

Representative Bello has filed House Bill No. 4022 in Congress that seeks to mandate that all private land developers allot 20% of the total land development for socialized mass housing as relocation for informal settlers.

Bello says this bill will serve as one of the solutions in ensuring accessible housing for the country’s urban poor.
“This is simply one of the measures we have to undertake in order to ensure that housing is provided for all those who need it, specifically for urban poor communities who are often left with no place to relocate after their houses are demolished,” Bello said.

Duterte incident should serve as wakeup call

Bello also weighed in on the recent incident involving Mayor Sara Duterte of Davao City punching a court sheriff executing a demolition order. According to Bello, although the use of violence against another person is wrong and cannot be justified, people should look into the entire context of the incident including the violence inflicted on the informal settlers. He also added that the incident must serve as a wakeup call to the government on the plight of informal settlers in the country.

“Using violence against another person is wrong. However, before we can cast judgment on the incident we have to consider the larger context. We can say inflicting violence is wrong but we also have to recognize that the motive behind it, which is to stand up for those who are weak, is right. The incident should therefore serve as a reminder and even as a wakeup call on the government to consider that demolitions such as those in Davao City will escalate into violence unless a proper and humane program of relocation and housing is crafted to address the needs of the urban poor,” according to Bello.

According to Metro Manila Development Authority studies, more than 560,000 families or an estimated 25% of all Metro Manila residents are informal settlers. Many of these residents are located in areas considered as fire hazards and in areas such as river banks which are vulnerable to flash floods. DILG Secretary Jesse Robredo has already supported moves for a national moratorium on forced demolitions and calls for a proper national policy on in-city, on-site relocations like mass housing of mid-rise tenements.


National moratorium on demolitions needed to avoid repeat of Davao incident –labor group

Labor Party - Philippines

The unfortunate, violent face-off between the furious Inday (Mayor Sara Duterte) and the hapless Sheriff Abe Andres could have been avoided if there had been a declared national moratorium on demolitions, the labor group Partido ng Manggagawa (PM - Labor Party - Philippines) said in a statement.

According to PM Secretary General Judy Ann Miranda, violent confrontations between the informal settlers and the demolition team are normal occurrence whenever an eviction or demolition order is enforced either by the court or by the government itself. And in many instances, a hapless sheriff who has no personal discretion at all to either withhold or press on with the order coming from his/her bosses, ends up getting the ire of angry residents, or in this recent case in Davao – a brutal hit from the mayor’s furious fist.

“As a party of ordinary labourers, we cannot help but sympathize with Sheriff Abe Andres for the humiliating experience he suffered from the hands of Mayor Inday. Yet we also recognize the firm resolve of Mayor Duterte in addressing the problem of her constituents in an appropriate manner and to prevent the expected outbreak of violence,” explained Miranda.

In fact, added Miranda, “Minus the disposition for brutality, all LGU officials should have the kind of social instinct that Mayor Sara Duterte has.”

The labor group together with other groups under the Kampanya para sa Makataong Pamumuhay (KAMP) had been urging the Palace since last year to declare a moratorium on demolitions, evictions and foreclosures on informal settlers while a new comprehensive housing policy is not yet in place.

“If the Masang Pinoy is really his boss, PNoy should likewise have the political will of Mayor Sara. The President in fact neither needs a fist nor a gun to stop violent demolitions but just a pen for an Executive Order declaring a moratorium,” concludes Miranda.

PM recalled that just recently also, exchange of words occurred between Makati Mayor and Department of Interior and Local Government Secretary (DILG) Jessie Robredo when violent confrontations flared up during the demolition of the Laperal compound in Guadalupe.

Several other demolition operations also ended up in violence and resulted eventually to the massive displacement for the cities’ informal settlers.

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