With demolition threats, no Christmas for urban poor

BIR ROAD, Quezon City — Groups condemn the demolition of an urban poor community living along BIR road in Quezon City. According to labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno, the Aquino government “does not respect the Christmas season when it comes to demolitions.”

“May we remind the president that the urban poor, too, looks forward to the Christmas season. It is not only the president, who wishes to receive less criticisms and covers up his government’s lack of care for the poor, who looks forward to Christmas” KMU secretary general Roger Soluta said in a statement. The group was referring to the recent pronouncement of President Benigno Aquino III that his Christmas wish is for Filipinos to be more positive in outlook and caring to one another.

Soluta said there seems to be an escalating government arrogance and violence against the plight of the urban poor. “Are we in for a replay of the Hacienda Luisita massacre, with the urban poor residents as targets this time around?” he said.

The communities are confronting demolition to give way to the Quezon City Central Business District, a 256-hectare project that aims to put Quezon City at the forefront of foreign investments.

But for Soluta, this project has also made Quezon City as a demolition capital of the Philippines. “It is clear that this project is for the benefit of big foreign and local capitalists who will invest in the QCCBD to the detriment of the urban poor.”

The labor center calls on the junking of the anti-poor development project, adding that the country should instead envision a kind of economic development that would serve the interests of poor Filipino families.

According to Gabriela, the country’s largest women group, the demolition of the urban poor community in BIR road illustrates “how the government fools the public into accepting that it is correct to take away the roof over poor people’s heads because they could not pay for it. They would squeeze out more money from them by re-selling housing units for a much higher price.”

KMU, meanwhile, condemns the “overkill use of violence by the police.” Gun shots were heard during the confrontation between the residents and the demolition team.
KMU called on the Aquino administration to declare a moratorium on demolitions and a ceasefire to his all-out war against the urban poor.

Text and photos by JANESS ANN J. ELLAO

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