North Triangle demolition: a glimpse of what the poor can expect from Noynoy’s PPP

As Pres. Aquino talks about poverty reduction and the MDGs in New York, the urban poor of North Triangle are forced to defend their shanties against demolition (Photos by Associated Press and Boy Santos)

While late because a temporary restraining order (TRO) has already been issued yesterday (Sep. 23) by a local trial court, Pres. Aquino’s order to suspend the forced relocation of residents of an urban poor community in North Triangle must be welcomed if only for the temporary respite it brings. But the issue is far from settled since the suspension simply intends to allow the “orderly” demolition of the remaining shanties.

In fact, the threat of eviction remains not only against residents of North Triangle but against all urban poor families who stand in the way of the administration’s centerpiece economic program – the public-private partnership (PPP). Indeed, the violent demolition of shanties in Sitio San Roque, Barangay Bagong Pag-asa yesterday gives a glimpse of what awaits the poor under the PPP.

(See the short video on Sitio San Roque’s demolition produced by multimedia production group Kodao Productions)

The demolition, which left several people injured, marks the start of the implementation of a P22-billion PPP project in the form of a joint venture between the National Housing Authority (NHA) and property giant Ayala Land Inc. to develop a 29.1-hectare property in North Triangle into the so-called Quezon City Central Business District (CBD). It is similar to another Ayala Land project and PPP initiative – the Bonifacio Global City in Taguig that also displaced thousands of urban poor families.

Based on official estimates, some 9,000 families will be evicted from Sitio San Roque to give way to the NHA-Ayala Land project but urban poor group Kadamay pegs the total number of affected families at 16,000.

This is just the beginning of what promises to be a tremendously and increasingly oppressive times for the urban poor not only in Metro Manila but in other parts of the country as well as the Aquino administration has vowed to aggressively pursue privatized infrastructure development through PPPs. An initial list of 10 priority PPP projects worth P127.78 billion for 2011 has been released by government, with the expansion of the mass rail transit system accounting for 55 percent of the amount.

While the poor of Sitio San Roque were desperately defending their shanties against the Metro Manila Development Authority’s (MMDA) demolition force backed by the Quezon City Police District (QCPD), Pres. Aquino was in New York with other world leaders to talk about progress in achieving the so-called Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), a set of targets aiming to halve poverty by 2015. According to reports, the country’s efforts to reduce poverty have been well-received at the United Nations’ (UN) assembly on the MDGs.

The World Bank even promised to fund government’s MDG efforts because in its view the Aquino administration is “moving in the right direction” with its promotion of PPP and conditional cash transfer (CCT). By the way, it was the World Bank that funded the framework plan of the CBD, which is now being implemented by the NHA and Ayala Land, whose board vice chairman Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala II, incidentally, joined Noynoy in his US trip to help scout for potential American partners in PPP initiatives.

The contrasting image of Noynoy in his neat Americana suit in New York talking about poverty reduction and of men in tattered shirts in North Triangle hurling stones at the MMDA and police in a desperate defense of whatever is left of their demolished shanties captures the hypocrisy of the MDGs and deception of the Aquino administration’s poverty alleviation program.

By promoting pro-business, anti-poor PPP projects such as the NHA-Ayala Land joint venture, government and the World Bank deprive the poor of shelter and consequently of a chance to be productive and get out of poverty. Instead of a decent, accessible, and sustainable housing project and other social services, what the poor get are CCT dole-outs from the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) to supposedly encourage them to send their kids to school and for pregnant or lactating mothers to have their regular check-up (note: universal primary education and improved maternal health are among the MDG targets).

But how can poor children attend school even with financial incentives from the DSWD when their families have been forcibly uprooted from their community and forever economically dislocated by wrong policies?

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12 thoughts on “North Triangle demolition: a glimpse of what the poor can expect from Noynoy’s PPP

    • are you not aware that Montalban Rizal is a Fault line place meaning to say it it not an advisable relocation place it should be those who are leaving in Montalban Rizal should be relocated because of the risk in soil erosion and earthquake, that’s why the squatters residences of north triangle refuses to go with the place.

  1. I’m curious sir. Please tell me if you had your way on how to treat this situation. I have nothing against the urban poor. In admission the land they have stayed on for over 30 years is OURS, the taxpayer. But now that it will be developed, are you suggesting that all residents remain in the area?. There own building complex perhaps?. If you don’t mind I would like to focus on this first.

    • i believe there is enough space in north triangle to accommodate the urban poor communities. malaki-laki ang 29 hectares. on top of moral and social issues (note that the urban poor are the same peasant communities forcibly displaced from the countryside due to decades of landlord domination and lack of genuine land reform), it also makes economic sense. di ba, if the intention of the supposed development project is to spur economic activity and create opportunities, it is only logical that such activity and opportunities are easily accessible to the potential workforce and consumers (including the urban poor). kaya hindi mo sila dapat basta-basta pinalalayas o itinatapon sa malayo. unless of course from the start, the urban poor are not included in the equation and therefore ang appreciation lang sa kanilang mga barung-barong ay sagabal sa structures that ayala land and nha want to build, which apparently is the case here. kung ganito tayo palagi magplano at magpatupad ng “development” kuno, paulit-ulit ang istoryang kagaya ng mga taga-north triangle at hindi tayo uunlad.

      • So if my backyard is three hectares, enough to accomodate few families, I should give away my land as well? Nice logic there.

      • if government is holding 29 hectares of land in behalf of the people, it’s not only logical, but just, to allow poor families use the land, have decent shelter, & be productive. if you have three hectares of land and you want to share it with your less fortunate countrymen, then you’re a very kind man.

  2. that part is an eyesore!these people dont deserve the land…..but i believe that a more humane approach has to be done to slowly resolve the issue. The lame Aquino govt could relocate them at outskirts and not in the city center. If 29 hectares is “huge”, the Batasan complex would be enough to accomodate them. Push thru with the CBD project and develop the whole Constitution Hills aswell…

  3. Pingback: PPP: More public debt, less gov’t responsibility – IBON Features | A Cynic Meets Hope

  4. I don’t understand why it’s hard for some people to comprehend that the issue here is not of humanitarian nor ethical kind. The land is not theirs and it is owned by somebody else, and that’s it.

    • I agree with the writer. These urban poor has always been part of the economic development. Who else would do low-paying and insecure jobs? Would you want or any of your family do that? I bet not. They’ve been working their ass of just to make your everyday life convenient. (jeepney, pedicab, family drivers; household helper, government employees, construction workers, etc.). And besides, the UDHA law mandates the development of mix-used, mix-income of residential communities. It would even lessen everyone’s carbon footprint since the labor force would be in-house. Definitely, a win-win situation.

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