Cebu urban poor group opposes Marcos’ high-rise housing project

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Cebu urban poor group opposes Marcos’ high-rise housing project

: Emmariel Ares – Multimedia Reporter – CDN Digital

June 15,2024 – 11:25 AM

A member of the Urban Poor Alliance of Cebu holds up a banner with a message urging the government to help urban poor families have more decent homes during a seminar/protest on June 12, 2024. Emmariel Ares

CEBU CITY, Philippines – “Don’t build unaffordable houses, make inadequate houses livable. Don’t build new homes, upgrade our existing ones.”

This was the common sentiment expressed by Cebu urban poor families in response to the government’s plan to build high-rise buildings to solve the need for shelter in the country.   

Over 1,000 members of the Urban Poor Alliance of Cebu gathered at a covered court in Barangay San Nicolas, Cebu City on Wednesday, June 12, to attend a seminar/protest.

In attendance were members of various homeowners associations in the cities of Cebu, Talisay, Lapu-Lapu, and Mandaue.

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The event, which began at past 4:00 p.m. after a Holy Mass at the San Nicolas de Tolentino Parish Church, became an avenue for the residents to express their concerns over their living conditions.

The attendees discussed issues regarding the threat of eviction due to land ownership uncertainties and the implementation of reclamation projects in Cebu, among other things.   

Their unified point of concern aimed towards the local and national government is the need for adequate housing for residents who are unable to afford decent homes on their own.   

Gemma Rosacena, president of the alliance, told CDN Digital in an interview that the goal of the protest was to come together to talk about their concerns and sign a manifesto.

The primary subject of the event revolves around President Ferdidand Marcos Jr.’s plan for his Pambansang Pabahay Para sa Pilipino Program, or 5Ps, to build hundreds of residential buildings as high as 21 stories, for the urban poor.

The project, which was first announced in 2022, aims to address the country’s housing backlog of up to P6.5 million based on government estimates.

However, urban poor homeowners in Cebu firmly believe that high-rise buildings are not the solution to the housing gap.

In behalf of her members, Rosacena relayed their opinion that the project will not be beneficial to urban poor families.

She said that it would be more effective instead to provide families in need with loans in order to upgrade the homes that they have now instead of building unaffordable units.

As an example, she said that the government could possibly use the allotted budget to lend P500,000, payable for 20 years, to urban poor families for them to build decent homes.   

“Ang message ra gyud nga – dili swak sa urban poor kanang high rise. Ang high-rise, mahal nya dili gyud affordable sa tawo. Unya ang makabenipisyo, ang mga developer ra gyud,” she stated.

Rosacena narrated that in the year 2021, around 200 of their members lost their homes that were demolished by the local government for flood-control projects.

The houses were built on government-owned land located along the waterways in barangays like Dulho and Mambaling.

According to Rosacena, the cash assistance  of over P20,000 or rental subsidy of P12,000 from the local government were not sufficient for the affected individuals to relocate to decent homes.

After their attempts at raising their concerns  to the local authorities failed, 18 of the residents involved reportedly filed complaints which are now in court.

Among the many problems of the members of the alliance, they specifically highlighted the concern on housing during the event scheduled on the commemoration of the Philippine Independence Day.

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Rosacena explained that they purposely held the event on the national holiday to symbolize their need for freedom to be a part of the government’s decision-making process on matters that concern them.

To ensure that their concerns will be heard in the future, the association created a manifesto that will be handed over to the next mayor after Cebu City Michael Rama’s term ends.

“Nagbuhat mi og manifesto. Nga ibutang gyud didto, pirmahan, nag-signature campaign para amo tong ihatag sa mga modagan pagka-mayor. Kung makadaog siya, mao na gyud ang issue nga number one sa urban poor. Mao gyud ang ilang dal-on. Para mahibaw-an nila,” stated Rosacena.

The following is a list of the issues that were highlighted in the manifesto:

  • Security Of Tenure; Land Titles
  • Basic Services Susama Sa Tubig, Electric, Sanitation Facilities
  • Affordable Home Improvement: Durability, Sufficient Living Area
  • Peace and Order, Fire Prevention, Garbage Collection
  • No Demolition Without Adequate Relocation: Livelihood, Basic Services
  • On site Relocation

As of this writing, over 1,000 individuals have signed the alliance’s manifesto.

Around 1,000 urban poor families have signed the manifesto containing their concerns for the next elected officials to be aware of during the event on June 12. Emmariel Ares

Moreover, Rosacena relayed a message to the local government units in Cebu to listen to the concerns of the urban poor and to help them create living conditions that suit everyone.

“Ang ato ra gyung gusto mahitabo nga ang syudad, maminaw sa yangungongo sa mga tawo. Paminawon ang unsay gusto sa mga tawo. Dili kay ang ilang kagustuhan, maoy ilahang buhaton. Og unsay fit sa mga urban poor nga nanimuyo, maoy ilahang ihatag,” she stated.


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TAGS: Cebu, housing, urban poor

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