Tuesday, 24 April 2012

The side effect of "Rapid Urbanization"

The side effect of "Rapid Urbanization"

Reflections on the recent riots at Silverio compound and other related events
involving urban poor communities and reforms for urban renewal

It was early morning when these people stood defiant against the police.

Armed with sticks, stones and bottles, they man their barricades and burn tires in the thoroughfares in Sucat Paranaque, all in pursuit of defending their community against the ones who simply enacted a demolition order that would affect their houses and their livelihood in that said compound.

To these illegal settlers, or squatters as most think of, it was a life or death situation that they are eager to defend their belonging in midst of the order issued against them-especially those who had the gut to carry stone and bottle to throw against the ones in truncheon and tear gas.

And as expected, a riot occured. Just like in the sitios of San Roque in Quezon City as well as Kadiwa in Navotas, these people in Silverio Compound were stubbornly defending their communities around-throwing sticks, stones, bottles, plastics full of excrement, all responded with shots of tear gas and eventually direct attacks by policemen that resulted to 33 arrests, 8 of them are minors.

However, on that same incident laid 4 protesters died fighting for a need for a "decent living" as they said so. One of them was shot in the head, while 2 were minors; GMA news even showed a policeman with an armalite in hand fired directly at the protesters with a reason of having a "warning shot", is there a "warning shot" that is pointed to everyone? Or is there a need for a gun during a riot? Quite questionable so to speak.

Such incidents like in Silverio Compound, San Roque in Quezon City and other urban poor communities may end up having a series of reprisals as expected.

And it seemd that this writer ridicule how come there should be a demolition in a compound that was donated by the local government to these inhabitants? They even paid it coin by coin in order to live as residents, the way "Libertarians" speak about freedom of communities and other sorts they tend to vent over.

 This writeup doesn't speak much entirely on behalf of the urban poor, but rather it speaks about a need for assessment in regards to the growing problem involving urbanization in the metro that made the urban poor compel to stay in Manila, hence be described by many as squatters.

Quite weird to think that im midst of rapid development the urban poor are seldom heard unless during elections with the promises of housing and development. For sure the ones on high would say that most of them are tardy, yet these people are mainly the ones who worked in the factory or any other establishment with minimal pay to support their basic needs. Evictions can be justifiable such as real and conducive settlements with organized employment and some local government support as a start over. Quite nice to think of that idealized view, yet most are rather taken that clause as a mere promise, a propaganda to be spread out especially to those who dare to promise that they'll return with new houses in same property they lived around for years.

Otherwise, instead of just evictions and unjust resettlements without any planning, perhaps a gradual urban renewal would be fitting for the urban poor communities especially those stood on government property. Step by step as this writer would say such as Paranaque's Mayor Bernabe, before that said incident in the compound once said that the compound hath been "Donated" to these "Squatters" while the latter hath to pay coin by coin in order to own their lot; but how come the situation reversed that made these settlers rage? 

Well, perhaps this writer would think and say everything is provisional, temporary despite everyone's pleas needing a concrete, permanent plan for urban renewal, including resettlement of urban poor in planned surroundings or gradual renewal of communities donated. Obviously, many scorned these "Squatters" simply because they are subjectively considered them as "Lumpen" and their houses as "eyesore." If so, instead of scorning them and treated as outcasts, the way white people everyone adore scorn the black that everyone dared to imitate most of the time why not help them help themselves? Most of them are even their drinking buddies, maids, carpenters, even playmates. 

It's just that they are plain and simple POOR PEOPLE that some think of them as devoid of self -improvement.

After all, in these kinds of incidents occurred involving these people living in Philippines very own "Ghettoes", "of what good is Democracy if it is not for the Poor?" as Marcos said before. To think that most of them are rather scorn, not all poor people in every urban area are mainly consists of raggedy lumpen-proletarians who thrived in stealing and prostitution. Development in the Philippines is somewhat good at first  such as those of sprawling buildings from Makati and Shopping Malls such as SM; yet becoming unrealistic as it emphasises mere foreign investment and consumerism over domestic development that utilizes total manpower and productivity that requires the need for a strong national light and heavy industry, genuine agrarian reform and progressive fiscal social policy.  These needs rather shape and improve the desired productive force in lieu of an existing one such as today. In fact, frankly speaking, call centres are not even enough to call it a showcase of modern industry the way factories had done centuries ago; nor the usual subdivision type of "Mass housing" that endangers arable land. Why not for a condominium the way everyone see the infamous Pyongyang in Juche Korea (or North Korea)?

Well, urbanization lays benefits and risks as expected. 
It simply requires concrete planning than thinking of it as a rapid threat such as this.

Pictures from Tudla productions and arkibongbayan.org