Bu-lat-lat (boo-lat-lat) verb: to search, probe, investigate, inquire; to unearth facts
Volume III, Number 46 December 21 - 27, 2003 Quezon City, Philippines
Jobs, No Homes, No Water
the many promises they got from President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, the poor in
the city have remained jobless and homeless. Government services such as safe
water, electricity and health allocations hardly reach their communities and as
if adding insult to injury, their shanties are ripped down and their only means
to survive is snatched from them.
native Muslim from the province of Marawi, Mindanao, Nasser Sulayman, 39, is
your typical vendor along the streets of Pasig City Market. As a young boy, he
and his family migrated to the island-province of Bohol to look for a better
source of income. But living in the
countryside, where poor peasants are denied of land to till, proved to be
difficult. After a few years,
Nasser and his family migrated to Manila, only to find out that urban living was
harsh and unfriendly to the poor.
in urban centers intensified in 1946 when some 23,000 individuals traveled to
the Tondo Foreshoreland and Intramuros in Manila and occupied them. It was also
around this time that people also started to fill up the riverside of Pasig. The
lack of income opportunities in the countryside has swelled the number of urban
poor to 96,000 individuals in 1956, 283,000 in 1963, and 1.6 million in 415
communities in 1978. In 1996, the
number of urban poor ballooned to more than 2.5 million individuals or 432,450
number of urban poor in the Philippines has reached the four million mark under
the Arroyo presidency. Government statistics show that of the 1.25 million
families living in what is commonly called as squatter areas, 261,717 of them
live in danger zones (riverside, bayside, under bridges, along the railways,
beside the airport); 426,517 in government-owned lands; and 299,122 in private
the National Capital Region (or Metro-Manila) alone, there are a total of
716,165 families living in urban poor communities, 94,358 of whom live in danger
areas, 321,566 in government-owned lands and 136,450 in private lands.
pronouncements of growth in the gross national product mean nothing to the urban
poor who remain jobless under the Macapagal-Arroyo administration.
Alon, secretary-general of the urban poor organization Kadamay, said “the
worsening joblessness is one of the hallmarks of the Arroyo presidency.”
2002 to 2003, the National Statistics Office reported that unemployment grew by
1.5 percent, from 11.2 to 12.7 percent, which translates into 534,000 lost jobs.
In total, there are 4.348 million jobless Filipinos.
the same period, the NSO said underemployment increased by 3.7 percent, from
17.1 to 20.8 percent, or roughly 1.05 million more underemployed individuals.
government’s inability to create jobs for thriving Filipinos has forced many
families and individuals to fend for their own. For example, there are about a million street vendors in
Metro Manila and 3.5 million nationwide. However,
their means of survival is now penalized under the Metropolitan Manila
Development Authority’s (MMDA) thrust to clear the sidewalks.
Metro Manila, about 20,000 vendors have had their products snatched from them by
MMDA men. It usually costs them
around P50 to P100 to get their products back – but most of the vendors attest
that their products are no longer complete when returned. “Ninanakaw ng mga
MMDA ang mga paninda namin (MMDA personnel steal our products),” said
Nelia, a sidewalk vendor in the Pasig City Public Market.
National Housing Authority (NHA) statistics show there are 8,294 homeless
families nationwide, 2,133 of them in Metro Manila. (Independent estimates
register a higher figure.) It pegs the total housing need in 2003 at 269,905.
Zarsuela, vice-chairperson of Kadamay, scores the government’s housing program
as a “sham,” catering to the middle class, not the urban poor.
She said that these mass housing projects were only carried-over projects
from the short-lived Estrada administration and that the Macapagal-Arroyo
administration has not built a single project during its three-year term.
usual government housing project is a five-storey building. A tenant has to pay
a monthly rent of P300 for the first year, P400 for the second year, P500 for
the third year, P600 for the fourth year and P700 from the fifth to the tenth
then on, a tenant has to pay P1,200/month for 15 years until he is able to own
the unit. By then, the unit shall cost around half a million pesos. Outright
purchase of a unit costs P190,000.
cost of living is now pegged at P538 a day in Metro Manila, an amount the urban
poor could hardly meet. Zarsuela says virtually none of them could afford to
avail of the government’s housing project.
this predicament, urban poor families are forced to build their shanties on
government or private lands or along the river, railway or airport and other
danger areas. In the name of government modernization programs, however, urban
poor communities are demolished. Last
Nov. 27 alone, police authorities demolished shanties at the Payatas dump
leaving one dweller killed and several others injured.
the railroad modernization of the Philippine National Railways (PNR) is expected
to dislocate about 10 million urban poor living along the PNR tracks.
clarified that while Kadamay supports modernization, the government should take
into account the millions of urban poor dwellers that would be affected by the
government’s projects. He said relocation areas with proper social services
should be provided.
Macapagal-Arroyo administration has also failed to deliver sufficient social
services to the poor, says Kadamay. It has done nothing over the continuing rise
in the prices of basic goods and petroleum products.
the government’s recent attack to the urban poor, the Purchased Power
Adjustment continues to be charged albeit hidden under various names in the
revised billing system of the Meralco and other utility companies.
Power rates remain high while many urban poor dwellings remain without
electric power. Out of 11 million
households nationwide, only four million of them use electricity, 1.5 million of
which are in NCR.
on the other hand remains a privilege and not a right. The NSO says about 4.8
million youth are out of school while the number of government scholars have
gone down to 40,294 from 44,876. Meanwhile,
the shortage in the number of teachers is 50,000 while the shortage in the
number of classrooms is 40,000.
national health budget is very low at P12.981 billion which means the health
budget for every individual is a measly P0.60 centavos – an amount not even
enough to buy a paracetamol tablet.
addition, out of the 11 million households nationwide, six million households
acquire potable water from deep wells or rivers. Around two million tap water
from legal water connections while in the NCR, less than a million households
have legal water connection.
condition makes the urban poor vulnerable to such diseases as cholera, malaria
and dengue, especially among infants and children. Statistics show that almost
three million children aged five and below are malnourished.
With their worsening condition, the urban poor clearly have no hope under the Macapagal-Arroyo presidency or thereafter. Kadamay chairperson Carmen Deunida vowed to campaign against Macapagal-Arroyo’s candidacy in the May elections in 2004. Bulatlat.com