Thursday, October 08, 2009

Davao City's poor communities cry for help

DAVAO CITY, Philippines - The progressive group called Anakpawis has urged the Davao City government to look into the housing situation of urban poor communities as part of its purported disaster preparedness plan.

Franchiquita Buhayan, the group's local spokesperson, made the calls following the ravages of typhoons Ketsana and Parma that left a trail of destruction and deaths in the country just this month.

“The urban poor shanties should be looked into as these would be hardest hit once big environmental disasters strike. We should not wait for another disaster before we learn the lesson that a city must be well prepared with the necessary equipment, technology, manpower and resources. This is to avoid the unnecessary wastage of lives and property and mitigate the damages caused by looming disasters,” Buhayan said in a statement.

City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte earlier said that residents living near the waterways and riverbanks must be ready to evacuate when disaster or calamity strikes and when authorities tell them to.

But Buhayan said the local and national governments must address the problem of urban communities by providing lands, houses and social services to poor families living in flood-prone areas.

In July, more than 1,200 families were affected by flash floods in Talomo District. And 24 families are still in a makeshift evacuation center in the San Lorenzo Ruiz parish grounds in Davao City.

“We call on the city housing authority to address the demands of the evacuees for a permanent relocation. The ten thousand pesos calamity assistance given by the government to the families may have helped at the onset but having lost their homes and properties, they need to receive a holistic rehabilitation and assistance from housing, health, education and livelihood,” Buhayan said.

On the other hand, Anakpawis attributed the problem to the national government’s budget allocation.

“The paltry amount is reflected in the unresponsiveness of the Arroyo government both to poverty-induced homelessness and disaster-driven homelessness,” Buhayan said.

She said that existing housing service through Pag-ibig loans for instance pays mere lip service to the whole essence of “service” since housing loans only cater to fixed – income earners such as workers and the underpaid professionals such as teachers, and government employees.

“Indeed, the disasters in Luzon is a wake-up call to our national and local government authorities. It must remind them that millions of families nationwide are suffering from lack of adequate and safe homes," Buhayan added.

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