Kristong Maralita Carries the Cross of Informal Settlers

On the occasion of the Lenten season, informal settlers belonging to the Katipunan ng Maralitang Obrero (KAMAO) staged a re-enactment of Jesus Christ’s passion on the cross in Mendiola to dramatize the plight of more than 25,000 informal settlers in Metro Manila who live in so-called danger zones.

“The informal settlers are facing a bleak future,” Fatima Cabanag, Secretary General of KAMAO, said. “Due to massive unemployment or underemployment, many of them are forced to live in hovels that are constantly threatened by floods. Now they are facing a bleaker future as the MMDA threatens to carryout massive demolitions even without proper relocations,” Cabanag added.

The MMDA is reportedly set to start demolitions in danger zones in Metro Manila right after the May elections.

“Violent clashes could once again erupt unless on-site, in-city or near-city relocations are provided to all the families who would be rendered homeless by this policy,”Cabanag, lamented. “To prevent this, we urge the Malacañang to stop dragging its feet and immediately sign the Joint Memorandum Circular that was prepared by the late DILG Sec. Jesse Robredo,” Cabanag emphatically added.

The Joint Memorandum Circular on the Operationalization and Utilization of the P50B Alternative Housing Program for the Informal Settler Families is a priority agenda of the National Anti-Poverty Commission-Urban Poor Council. It aims to provide clear guidelines on how the P50 billion fund for housing for those living in danger areas in Metro Manila could be utilized. To be operational, it has to be signed by the heads of various government agencies like the DILG, HUDCC, DSWD, PCUP, DBM, DOF, NHA, SHFC and NAPC.

Apart from demanding a moratorium on all demolitions, KAMAO also reiterated its call for full employment. “All these talk of ‘economic growth’ is useless unless it creates decent and sustainable jobs for all,” Cabanag asserted.

KAMAO is a national confederation of urban poor organizations from key cities around the country with 30,000 members. It is affiliated to the Alliance of Progressive Labor (APL) and is a founding member of Sentro.

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