Modernize and Demolish
Port privatization to displace 849,000
individuals face eviction due to the privatization of the Manila North
Harbor, the urban poor organization Kadamay said. Yet, the port
modernization project’s Terms of Reference is silent on relocation plans
for the soon-to-be evicted families.
BY DABET CASTAÑEDA
FACING DISPLACEMENT: Around 849,000
residents of Tondo, Manila are threatened with the demolition of their
shanties due to the privatization of the Manila North Harbor
TONDO, Manila - It is
survival day as usual with all the hustle and bustle in this crowded
municipality: heavily-built porters and stevedores carry heavy loads
to-and-from the North Harbor; men and women tend to sari-sari
(variety) stores, turo-turo (streetside canteens), tapsilogan
(an eatery that serves fried rice with egg and a variety of processed
meat and fish), and mini hamburger stands. Joining the mad rush are
barangay (village) officials, fish, meat, and vegetable vendors in
nearby Divisoria market. Everyone is trying to make a living with some
peeling sacks of garlic the whole day.
Children walk to
school or take their snacks of fish balls, quek-quek (boiled eggs
coated with flour and seasonings and fried), ice candy, buko
(coconut) juice and an endless variety of chichiria (chips and
crackers). Out-of-school youths join their parents vending, beg in front
of the huge church or just roam around town.
Beside the church
where the tricycle terminal is located is a graffiti which reads: “Tondo
man ay may langit din.” (Even in Tondo there is heaven.)
Tondo is ubiquitous
to many who have passed by the urban poor communities along the North
Harbor since it became populated in the mid-1950s. Some of the nation’s
great revolutionaries were born here. In current times it has been the
target of police saturation drives in running after “subversives.”
Sensational stories also paint its dark side: an urban squalor of gangs,
street thugs and drug users.
Elder settlers here say more than
half of the neighborhood came from the Eastern Visayas provinces of Samar
and Leyte, two provinces comprising one of the poorest regions in the
country. Theirs is the same old story of poor farmers who inhabit the busy
streets of Manila in search of a better life but end up as what they are
insensibly called today as squatters or, to the class-conscious observer,
Looming ahead is something that will
change their lives: Their simple efforts to earn a day’s earning in Tondo
may be put to a halt by a demolition plan under government’s privatization
plan for the Manila North Harbor gets underway.
Justifying the impending demolition
of houses, Ver Padua, Executive Assistant to the Port Manager of the
Philippine Ports Authority (PPA), said in an interview with Bulatlat
over the weekend that the community eviction along the Manila North
Harbor is inevitable to make way for the port’s modernization and
privatization. Government agencies such as the PPA, the National Housing
Authority (NHA) and the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH)
which are all involved in the project are jointly responsible for the
relocation of the affected families, he also said.
Padua said that the PPA is
responsible for the relocation of only around 300 affected families –
identifying them as those living along the sidewalk of the port called
Other families live along Radial
Road-10 (R-10) that consists of seven barangays (villages). Padua said it
is the DPWH which is responsible for relocating these families to make way
for the road-widening project. Under the privatization cum modernization
plan, the present six-lane-road will be widened to make it into an
eight-lane expressway for the fast transportation of cargos from various
ports in the country, Padua said.
Exmila Rabano, Barangay 39
chairperson, said there is also a plan to construct a skyway from
Pasay-Edsa to the Valenzuela Exit to hasten traffic from the Batangas Port
to the Bataan Port.
However, Rabano said she has yet to
receive a notice of demolition from the city mayor. She and other
residents fear that the demolition will start soon as 5,000 houses in
neighboring barangays have been demolished since April this year.
Ronaldo Cordova, a tanod (village
security) of Barangay 110, said around 1,500 families were evicted from
their village last April. Problem is, he said, no relocation site has been
provided by the DPWH or the city government. “Yung matagal nang
nakatira dito binigyan ng financial aid na P15, 000. ($302.05
at an exchange rate of $1=P49.66) Pero yung karamihan walang natanggap”
(Long-time residents were given a financial aid of P15,000. But most
residents received nothing.), he said.
Some of the evicted
families, he said, have reportedly gone home to their provinces while most
just built their houses in nearby barangays.
The urban poor-based group Kadamay (Kalipunan
ng Damayang Mahihirap) estimates that around 141,500 families or roughly
849,000 individuals living along the Tondo foreshore area would be evicted
by government’s north harbor privatization plan. Included are Navotas Area
(75,000 families); Parola (37,000 families); Breakwater and Isla Putting
Bato (6,000 families); Road 10 and Happy
Land (5,000); Baseco (6,000
families); and Collector’s Road (500 families).
In the Terms of
Reference (ToR) of the Manila North Harbor Modernization Project (MNHMP)
dated January 2006, there is no clear provision for relocation of the
Section 7.04 (page
13) of the Concession Agreement of the MNHMP states that “the owner (here
referred to as the PPA) shall undertake, in coordination with other
government agencies, the relocation of the squatters at its own account or
on the account of the government.”
Although it says the
“relocation of the affected squatters shall be given priority by the owner
and to be completed prior to the Commencement Date,” no relocation sites
have been made available.
tried to get the side of the NHA and DPWH but was given the run around. No
official from the two government agencies were available for interviews as
of press time.
The ToR is yet to be
approved by the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA).
Permanent, in-city relocation
Josefina Aldiano, an old-time organizer in Tondo, said they have faced the
same fate during the early years of Martial Law (1974-75). Their demand
then was to be granted permanent residence. Aldiano said the
demolition plans did not prosper.
They had to confront
another demolition during the latter years of Martial Law (1983-85) when
the Marcos government constructed a railway along Slip Zero (now known as
Parola, the Tagalog word for lighthouse) just in front of the San Miguel
notwithstanding, the demolition pushed through to make way for the
railway. Thousands of Tondo residents were sent to relocation centers in
Bulihan and Dasmariñas in the
province of Cavite, Sapang Palay in the province of Bulacan, Bagong Silang
and Dagat-Dagatan in the municipality of Caloocan. This was the second
time that the Aldianos were relocated.
The Aldianos came
from the province of Leyte. They migrated to Manila in the early 1950s but
their first home in Binondo was demolished in 1955. They were paid P10,
000 ($201.36 computed at current exchange rate).
In 1962, Aldiano and
her husband started piling kusot (wood shavings) and balat ng
troso (tree barks) on the grounds of Slip Zero, then a dumpsite for
crushed bottles of SMC. Together with some 60 other individuals, the
Aldianos made this their home.
Aldiano said she became a full-time urban
poor organizer in Tondo during Martial Law. She also served as a member of
the Zone One Tondo Organization (ZOTO) medical team. She suffered three
arrests, the first in 1975 when she was caught bearing acupuncture
needles. The last two arrests were in 1983 and 1984 when she was an
organizer in the town of Sapang Palay, province of Bulacan, where her
family along with others were relocated because of the construction of the
railway along Slip Zero.
Now a lupon (village arbiter) of Barangay
39, Aldiano said they still have the same demands: permanent and in
city-relocation. “Yung hindi na gigibain,” (One which will never be
demolished.) she said. Bulatlat
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© 2006 Bulatlat
Alipato Media Center
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