Many urban poor pin their hopes on President Duterte’s plan to improve the country.
By ANNE MARXZE D. UMIL
MANILA — President Rodrigo Roa Duterte may have won the hearts of the Filipino electorate, but his State of the Nation Address (Sona) has fallen short of details on aspects concerning ordinary folk. These include education, jobs and better work condition, protection of their right to due process.
Bulatlat interviewed ordinary folk around Batasan Road before Duterte gave his speech on July 25.
Housing, space for livelihood
Single parent Myrna Celita, 54, has one child whom she worked her finger to the bone to send through college, selling a myriad of products, from flowers to banana que and carioca. Her daughter finished computer science but only found a job in a mall. Although her daughter has graduated, Celita still helps out to send to school her grandchildren, nephews and nieces. She hoped Duterte would scrap the K to 12 program.
“I really wanted that program to be stopped. Life is very difficult. We have struggled with the 10 year-education, how much more for 12 years?” she told Bulatlat in an interview. She said many parents cannot even support their children, many of whom end up as drop-outs,” she added.
President Duterte, however, did not mention the K to 12 program in his Sona.
Celita also wishes that the Duterte administration provides free housing to the poor. She and her daughter rent a house in Bagong Silangan village in Quezon City. She laments that what they earn only goes to pay for rent. There was also a threat of demolition of their community.
Celita saw Duterte’s sincerity in going after criminals and noted that there was change after he won, as police go after drug peddlers. She was all for the elimination of crime as her nieces in the province were all victims of rape by their own father. She voted for Duterte because she really wanted criminals to be punished. “I voted for Duterte for justice for all victims of violence,” she said.
Romeo Resare, 38, a pineapple vendor, has been selling along Batasan for the past three years. He hopes that Duterte lets street vendors like him sell and make a living without being harassed.
“We are still being apprehended by authorities. I do look forward to change so that all could live a comfortable life, not just those who are in power,” he said.
Resare said he voted for Duterte because he hails from Mindanao, while other Philippine presidents came from Luzon and Visayas. “Iba naman, (For a change)” he said. He believed in Duterte’s promise to end criminality in six months and that he would indeed bring change in the country.
Two vendors from Manila also went to the People’s Sona in Batasan. With them are not only their placards but also umbrellas — not in preparation for the rain, but to sell.
Lunesa Lucaberte, 47, of Parola, Tondo hopes that Duterte would allow street vendors to continue with their livelihood. Her family has a sari-sari store in Luneta Park, where they have been selling for the past 10 years. However, they are being evicted from the park because of the local government’s clearing operations. Selling is their primary source of income.
“We have nowhere else to go,” Lucaberte said.
Jennifer Mondejar, 43, has a similar problem. She was among the vendors in Divisoria, Manila whose stalls were evicted by the clearing operations last week. She has eight children; six of them are in their province in Mindanao and the other two are with her in Tondo. She is a single parent.
Mondejar went to the province last elections to bring her kids to her family, and also to vote for Duterte. Making a living in the province is more difficult, she said so she came back with her two children to Manila, where she has lived for 20 years. With her stall gone, she roams Divisoria to sell goods to bring food on the table.
“I do hope that he will help us. Especially with our condition now that I have no place to sell,” she said.
In his Sona, Duterte spoke of “jobs that are suitable for the poor and less skilled members of the workforce,” as well as the development of agriculture, tourism and manufacturing. For the abovementioned small vendors, they can just hope that it would include better conditions for those who sell on the streets.
Urban poor group supports in-city relocation, rehabilitation for drug suspects
In a statement, urban poor group Kadamay said they were “disheartened” that Duterte’s Sona said nothing about ending contractualization, which had plagued many workers.
They, however, “welcomed” Duterte’s earlier statement that there will be no demolitions without relocation of informal settlers, as well as what he said in the Sona said about requiring utility companies to install water and electricity in relocation and depressed areas. The group also noted his statement for developing industries to create jobs for sustainable communities.
Kadamay noted that the President should also look into the Urban Development and Housing Act (Udha), which has been “the main legal justification” in enforcing demolitions.
“Informal settler families in Quezon City, Cebu, Batangas and Davao have been tossed aside to the gutters in favor of big business and the interests of local government authorities,” the group said. It added that eviction “should be at the bottom of the list of options if we are to endeavor for genuine on-site and community development.”
On Duterte’s order to the police to “triple” their operations against drugs, Kadamay said these should be done with respect for suspects’ right to due process, “as part of his (Duterte’s) commitment to human rights.”
“We call on both the PNP and the President to sincerely account for the staggering number of deaths of those merely being suspected of drug-related activities. Whether vigilantes or rogue actions of police, urban poor Filipinos are fast becoming the primary target.
The group said the government’s war on drugs should be in the whole context of combatting poverty. There should also be reorientation of the police, and provision of rehabilitation services for drug addicts as part of basic social services.