October 12, 2009
Reference: Shiela Ferrer, National Council Member (0926-6446402)
Gov't held accountable
Ondoy Victims Storm HUDCC
“More than storm Ondoy, what placed the poor at risk is the Arroyo
government’s ineffective housing programs and services, and worsened by
its inept disaster response,” stated Shiela Ferrer, GABRIELA National
Led by the militant women’s group GABRIELA, women and their families who
were victims of the freak flood triggered by Ondoy staged a protest action
in front of the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC)
to demand the government’s accountability over its failure to address the
issues of housing and calamity.
According to GABRIELA, the present situation is being used to further
displace communities. The group strongly condemned the plans to demolish
urban poor communities located in what the government calls “danger zones”
such as those under the bridge of San Mateo and along the Marikina
Floodway, without clear and definite plans of genuine relocation. They
also criticized the palliative solutions of the government such as the “balik-probinsya”.
“If the victims are relocated to an area, just so the people in government
could show they are not sleeping on their job, but without livelihood and
social services, it is no different from a calamity hitting the victims
again,” said Ferrer.
The protest-action was held in time to mark the first year of
implementation of RA 9507 or the Socialized Low-Cost Housing Loan
Restructuring Act of 2008. According to GABRIELA, RA 9507 is an example of
the government’s ineffective housing programs.
“Through RA 9507, the poor are buried in debt. They are made milking cows
by the government through increasing interest rates and penalties. Instead
of being a social service, housing has become a business. As what happened
in Katuparan and Smokey Mountain Housing Projects in Tondo, the residents
are unmercifully forced to pay rent despite the dilapidated state of their
homes. There, storm or not, the poverty-stricken residents are in constant
danger,” explained Ferrer.
“Further, many of the victims are paying amortization fees under the
Community Mortage Program (CMP), like in Bgy. Bagong Silangan, Quezon
City. This proves that not only is the government’s housing programs are
profit-oriented, but are also inutile and unsafe,” added Ferrer.
GABRIELA demands that adequate housing be provided to the victims of the
recent calamity. They also demand for decent and safe housing for all, so
that no Filipino has to continue living in vulnerable conditions. ###
News Release – October 16, 2009
Reference: Bayan Muna Rep. Satur C. Ocampo, 0917.8226184
For more information: Vince Borneo, Media Relations Officer, 0927.7968198
Satur: GMA's urban renewal plans should prioritize homes for victims of
Ondoy and Pepeng
Deputy Minority Floor Leader and Bayan Muna Rep. Satur Ocampo today urged
the Macapagal-Arroyo administration and its responsible agencies to
prioritize the provision of decent homes to the victims of typhoons Ondoy
and Pepeng. He said this is a practical yet very urgent concern that needs
to be addressed.
Ocampo brought the issue up in response to reports that Pres. Gloria
Macapagal-Arroyo has given the go-signal for much delayed urban
development project supposedly meant to relocate thousands of squatters
and rearrange Metro Manila areas on a permanent scope. Part of the planned
Metro Manila development project is the relocation of thousands of
informal settlers living near rivers and creeks.
In the study funded by the World Bank used by Malacanang, it was stated
that development will be applied in three major areas: in the Marikina
Valley, the western shores of Laguna de Bay, and the Manila Bay coastal
area to the north of Manila.
"Thousands lost their homes along with almost everything else they owned.
In the meantime, thousands more fear returning to the areas where they
used to live out of dread that the next big floods can be worse. Already,
experts see an increase in the number of slum dwellers disparagingly
called squatters. This is a situation that must be prevented: people
deserve safe, secure dwellings, and it is the government's task to provide
these," he said. "We hope that Malacanang's plans to rehabilitate Metro
Manila will not be a cold-blooded and mechanical campaign to simply clear
away the poor and drive them off to far-flung areas to build slum
Random surveys reveal that majority of the victims come from menial and
low-paying jobs -- many are from the informal sector. The calamities have
driven them to even deeper levels of penury. Urban poverty is certain to
Ocampo said that Malacanang should send a concrete blue-print for the
urban development project to Congress. He also said that residents of
Metro Manila especially the areas affected by the typhoon should be
consulted on the changes.
"The government must not be allowed to add more injury to those already
sustained by the victims. A genuine urban renewal and rehabilitation
program prioritizes the welfare of residents -- ensuring that they have
houses and not hovels. Beautification is not merely planting trees, it's
building safe communities with easy access to water, sanitation and
electricity services," he said.
Finally, Ocampo said that the National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB)
should immediately find means to quantify the possible increase in slum
dwellers and provide the government a ball-park figure on the extent of
the work it must undertake. #
Vincent Michael L. Borneo
Political Affairs Officer
(Media and Public Relations)
Office of Deputy Minority Leader
and BAYAN MUNA Rep. Satur C. Ocampo
Rm. 416, RVMitra Bldg.,
House of Representatives, Quezon City
Telefax no: 951-1027
IBON Media Release / 14
CANCEL DEBT PAYMENT TO FREE UP FUNDS FOR CALAMITY RELIEF, GOV’T URGED
Instead of appeals for more foreign aid to rehabilitate the country from
the effects of disasters, research group IBON urges government to cancel
debt payments and free up resources for relief and rehabilitation.
According to research head Sonny Africa, “Environmental shifts mean that
extreme weather events will become more frequent and there must be much
greater investments in the country’s disaster preparedness.”
“Extreme weather conditions are beyond government’s control, debt payments
are not,” he added. “It is the height of insensitivity of the country’s
leaders if they dogmatically insist on repaying debt in the face of the
multiple crises facing the country.”
The Arroyo administration paid P1.52 trillion in foreign debt service,
interest and principal, from 2001-2008. It is scheduled to pay a further
P224 billion in 2009 and P253.5 billion in 2010. In contrast, the
programmed calamity fund for 2009 and 2010 were just P2 billion annually.
This unceasing debt service is undermining the government’s capacity not
just to prepare for disasters, give relief and support rehabilitation
after calamities, but also to meet the people’s basic needs for health,
education and housing—which could have ensured their adaptability to
extreme weather changes and resilience to calamities.
The government has a range of options for debt cancellation, said Africa.
It can start from identifying a target overall percentage of debt stock
and corresponding payments to cancel. It can identify particularly loans
such as any still left over from the Marcos dictatorship or others funding
particularly onerous or anti-developmental projects. Government can
prioritize loans from multilateral development banks such as the World
Bank or Asian Development Bank which, unlike commercial creditors,
purportedly extend loans for developmental purposes.
The drastic economic slowdown especially with the onset of the global
crisis, the looming fiscal crisis with deficits rising rapidly and now the
calamities due to tropical storms Ondoy and Pepeng are enough
justification to call for emergency cutbacks in foreign debt payments.
More than trickles of foreign aid, debt cancellation would free up
resources for relief and rehabilitation and for overall economic
“This is an opportunity for the government to exert political will and
cease being a mendicant in its dealings with foreign governments and
creditors,” said Africa. “We Filipinos are fully capable of helping
ourselves if only the government stops its self-destructive debt policy.
IBON reiterates how successive governments including the Arroyo
administration have vigorously opposed any debt moratorium, cancellation
or repudiation on the grounds of protecting creditworthiness. However,
this long-standing lack of vision in the government’s debt management
policy has proven to be extremely burdensome for the people. (end)
IBON Foundation, Inc. is an independent development institution
established in 1978 that provides research, education, publications,
information work and advocacy support on socioeconomic issues.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
14 October 2009
Reference: Ryan Leano, Secretary General, SanDiwa National Alliance of Fil-Am
Filipino-Americans say Arroyo's directives on relief efforts, a
The Philippines had been a disaster-ridden area recently, with typhoons
Ondoy (international name Ketsena) and Pepeng (international name Parma)
claiming the lives of hundreds in just a span of two weeks.
With the outpour of aid from supporters and Filipino migrants abroad,
President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo issued directives stating that all
donations must go through the Department of Social Welfare and Development
(DSWD) or else, donations will be taxed. The directives also indicate that
only food, medicines and medical supplies (with the two latter requiring
approval from the Department of Health or DOH) will be accepted, therefore
leaving clothes, shoes and other such donations at risk of getting
confiscated upon reaching the Bureau of Customs in the Philippines.
The directives, according to the National Alliance for Filipino Concerns (NAFCON),
a national alliance comprised of Filipino organizations in 23 cities in
the United States, are "untimely", "inappropriate" and block much-needed
support in these times of calamity from entering the country.
"The Philippine government cannot prevent concerned Filipinos from abroad
to gather and send relief materials (aside from food, medicines and
medical supplies) to the typhoon victims in the Philippines. Our
kababayans back home also need clothes, shoes and other things to replace
what they have lost. The government could surely not gather all these
support by itself as proven in its inefficiency to even provide the most
basic needs of the Filipino people," Fr. Ben Alforque, President of NAFCON
based in San Bernardino, California, said.
Effects of Arroyo's Directives on Community Efforts Abroad
In different states, member organizations and supporters of NAFCON and
SanDiwa (the youth arm of the alliance) have already gathered monetary
donations amounting to more than $10,000, and hundreds of boxes with
material donations are awaiting to be sent home to the Philippines.
But with the directives in place, organizations who have been making
initiatives are having a hard time looking for shippers or air freights
that could deliver for free since the Philippine government has already
consigned most of these establishments and would only allow accredited
organizations in the Philippines to receive donations. Sending and
receiving organizations are then required to complete paperworks that need
to go through much bureaucracy.
"It is absolutely absurd for Arroyo to issue such directives at a time
like this. Why now when the Filipino people need all the immediate help
they can get? These red tapes only breed discouragement among our
kababayans, bringing about second thoughts in sending aid to the
Philippines," Fr. Ben added.
Despite the different organizations looking for other ways to send the
donations to the Philippines hassle and cost-free, NAFCON, with its member
organizations in different states, still believes that the Filipino people
must demand the Philippine government to allow into the country any form
of help from migrants and supporters abroad -- free and without tax.
"We are not about to give up. The government must address these concerns
and should stop making profit out of the goodwill of Filipinos abroad. The
Philippine government is known to make profit out of social services
instead of providing these for free to its citizens. This is why our
kababayans here in the US are losing trust in the Philippine government
and are turning to people's organizations in sending relief to the typhoon
victims instead," Anne Beryl Corotan, President of SanDiwa, based in New
Community Actions vs Arroyo's Directives
In light of these restrictions, community meetings and actions have been
taking place in different states, with the members of the communities
actively participating in the resolve to send the donations no matter
Asked about what they fear if they course the donations through the
Philippine government agencies and on what Filipinos abroad must do,
Maureen Manuel, a New Jersey resident and member of Philippine Forum, one
of NAFCON's member organizations, said, "Knowing the Philippine
government, we won't be surprised if we find the confiscated material
donations (clothes, shoes, etc) in ukay-ukays (flea markets). If we send
our donations through its agencies, we are afraid that the donations will
not reach the rightful recipients. That is why we must always be watchful
and should not let Arroyo's directives hinder us from helping our fellow
Volunteers and donors, seniors and youth alike, still keep coming to the
centers of these Filipino organizations, helping fold, sort through, and
pack the donations into balikbayan boxes.
"Arroyo must learn from our simple kababayans who ask for nothing in
return when they volunteer and step into our centers, and who only have
their kindness and donations to offer as support for our fellow Filipinos
back home," Fr. Ben ended.
Updates on NAFCON/SanDiwa's Bayanihan for Typhoon Disaster Relief can be
monitored through http://bayanihan4ondoy.wordpress.com. For more
information, please contact Anne Beryl (516) 9011832 for East Coast, and
Ryan Leano (626) 5344971 for West Coast, or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.