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Urban poor on cross in Miranda Plaza

MANILA (Agencies) : Groups representing the urban poor displayed their plight in the streets of Manila on March 27 in what has become an annual dramatised depiction of the passion of Christ.

Dubbed the Kalbaryo ng Maralita (Calvary of the Poor), they enacted the drama as they moved from Liwasang Bonifacio to Plaza Miranda outside Quiapo Church, with 40 people simulating the flogging of Christ at their head.

CBCP News reported that members of housing rights groups, including Urban Poor Associates, Community Organisers Multiversity and other organisations from Tondo, Pasig, Quezon City and Laguna Lake joined in the procession.

They said that Calvary reminds people that the suffering of Jesus is reflected in the woes imposed on the poor through forced evictions from their homes, consequent homelessness, hunger, injustice and under- and unemployment.

They added that the reenactment of the Passion of Christ seeks to reecho the call of Pope Francis to defend the poor and the weak.

“We gathered today in the hope that with the call of Pope Francis to defend the poor and the weak, our government will listen to our plea,” Jennylyn David, a resident of Manggahan Floodway in Pasig, said.

“We plead that the government will stop evictions set for May 15 for the families in Manggahan Floodway and other urban poor people who are living in danger areas to make way for the flood control-project,” she said.

David said they fear that the project will lead to displacement of thousands of poor families.

“We do not oppose the flood control project, but we hope the government will understand our sentiments that while it is valuable, it must not come at the expense of displacing thousands of poor families like us who are already marginalised by society,” she added.

The Urban Poor Associates say that the first three years of the Aquino administration has seen a much higher number of eviction cases than during the terms of past presidents.

“This shows President (Noynoy) Aquino has a lot more to do to fulfill the covenant he signed with the urban poor in 6 March 2010 at the Del Pan Sports Complex, Tondo, Manila,” it claimed.

The group pointed out that land is the basic problem in resettlement matters, as it is all in-city and near-city housing of the poor.

“The government should now provide the land, as it will be more difficult to do so as the years go by. We ask them to acquire resettlement land before they evict or plan to evict,” it stressed.

After the reenactment, Bishop Broderick Pabillo celebrated a Mass at the Quiapo Black Nazarene  Basilica.

The auxiliary bishop of Manila called on the government to address the issues that lie at the root of the housing problems of the poor in the capital city of the nation.