August 29, 2012
Instead of partisan politics, the new Department of Interior and Local Government should focus on urban poor issues including the forced eviction of residents arising from the long standing housing problem. This was raised today by the umbrella group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) as the known factions inside the Aquino administration seem to be at odds over who gets the coveted DILG portfolio now that the 2013 elections are approaching.
The DILG post is viewed as strategic for any political party competing in the 2013 national elections, because the DILG has a direct line to local officials nationwide. The so-called Balay faction is eyeing the post which is now occupied temporarily by Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa who is identified with the Samar faction within the Aquino government.
Meanwhile, at the time of his death, Secretary Jesse Robredo was confronted with the daunting task of looking for relocation sites for some 100,000 settlers that were supposed to be displaced by the Aquino government because they were living near waterways. Robredo, based on his public statements, was in favor of in-city relocation sites. Robredo said his interagency task force has found a possible relocation site in Pasay where permanent structures could be set up to house the dislocated residents. Robredo has also met with progressive partylist groups and urban poor groups in the past on the issue of violent demolitions and the absence of viable relocation sites.
“The political bickering over who gets the DILG post is sickening and is a great disservice to the people. It would be better if the next DILG secretary will not be too mired in partisan politics especially with the 2013 elections approaching. The next DILG secretary will have to face the issues of the urban poor especially now that the Aquino government is pushing for the demolition of more than 100,000 families living near waterways,” said Bayan secretary general Renato M. Reyes, Jr.
Issues not politicking
“The next DILG secretary must not pursue a policy of violent and forced evictions of informal settlers. At the very least, it should help in the efforts to find suitable in-city relocation or on-site development for settlers, at no huge cost for the residents,” Reyes said.
Bayan said that it would be problematic if President Benigno Aquino III makes partisan political interest the sole criterion in selecting the next DILG chief. “Appointing someone for the sole purpose of electoral politics would be the ultimate Trapo move. Ironic, considering Aquino has proclaimed Robredo as the opposite of Trapo. Such an appointment will simply show that the Chief Executive is more concerned with addressing electoral problems rather than the people’s housing problems,” Reyes said.
Bayan will be joining various urban poor groups in a march protest from Plaza Miranda to Mendiola on August 30 to denounce plans for the forced eviction of urban poor settlers without any viable relocation and source of livelihood. The rally will also serve as a challenge to the next DILG chief, whoever he or she may be, to address the long-standing urban poor issues. ###