The struggle for in-city housing has been an uphill effort for the urban poor not only in Metro Manila but also in other cities of the Philippines. Year in and year out, the weary call of the poor in the city is: a place in the city. What is a city without its people and its people are not just the ones who should be occupying the townhouses or the condos but also those who need a space in the city because it is there where work and basic social services are available.
Since year 2011, the urban poor of Metro Manila saw an opening of the possibility for in-city housing because of the pronouncement of President Noynoy Aquino that a Php 50 billion budget for socialized housing in the city for those living along danger areas in Metro Manila will be allotted. This pronouncement was in line with the “covenant” signed in March 2010 between President Noynoy Aquino and the Urban Poor when President Aquino was just campaigning for the Presidency then. The urban poor took the covenant seriously and it appeared that the President took the covenant seriously too. However, since 2010 until today, the urban poor communities who are supposed to be provided in-city affordable housing are still threatened with eviction.
Community Organizing is about making the government bureaucracy take the demands of the poor seriously. Asking for in-city housing is a citizen’s right within the provision in the Philippine Constitution which adheres to what then President Magsaysay said about the poor : That those who have less in life should have more in law. But time and again, the poor have proven that great words on paper are just words if they are not backed up by the power of warm bodies seen and heard together with the sustained assertion of the poor’s legitimate demands.
A time comes when the poor get hoarse and tired of warding off evictions. Threatening people to leave the spaces they are occupying in the city simply because they do not have titles to the land they are occupying communicates to the world about the kind of society the Philippines is. Does this country care for its poor people who compose the work force – the jeepney drivers, washer women, security guards, sales ladies and salesmen, shoe shines, factory workers, teachers, etc.? Year 2013 has a lot of challenges on the doorsteps of the poor.
It is better to die as slaves in revolt than to die as slaves in chains - Spartacus