News Release 

October 12, 2009

Reference: Shiela Ferrer, National Council Member (0926-6446402)

“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 Council member.
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.