Erap Para sa Mahirap . . .

Erap Para sa Mahirap . . .

Former Manila mayor Joseph Estrada and incumbent Manila mayor Isko Moreno once agreed: “Kung si Erap para sa mahirap, at si Isko galing sa hirap, sina Erap at Isko, lalaban sa nagpapahirap.” (Photo: Facebook)

Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.

— 2 Corinthians 9:6-8

TODAY, before I move on to our main topic to discuss, I’ll be writing a few snippets of opinions and commentaries on several issues I believe have a significant bearing on the future of our country and people.

But before moving on to the snippets, let me express my condolences to the family and kin of two dear friends who recently passed away and I will sorely miss: Light Rail Transit Authority (LRTA) administrator and retired police general Reynaldo Berroya and Pinoy folk and rock singer and bluesman Heber Gonzalez Bartolome.

Retired police general Reynaldo Berroya (right) and Pinoy folk and rock singer and bluesman Heber Gonzalez Bartolome.

I met pareng Rey through his beauteous daughter Liza Berroya, who became likewise a dearest friend after I interviewed her for the cover story of the defunct Women’s Journal. On the other hand, I remember pareng Heber as that guy who often shocked me with his uncanny sense of humor—often saying “up yours” while performing on stage and raising his bottle of beer to salute the audience but actually signaling yours truly to get him another bottle of his favorite Cerveza.

I REMEMBER one incident when Gen. Berroya and his co-accused Gen. Kit Alquiza attended their court hearing in Makati City.

It was right after the hearing was adjourned when we were about to move out of the courtroom. We suddenly noticed this guy in civilian clothes who was standing right in front of the courtroom’s main entrance and tried to pull out what we thought was a gun.

I just glimpsed from my peripheral vision Gen. Alquiza preventing the man from doing anything foolish while saying “Sige, bunutin mo . . .” and on that instance then I pushed pareng Rey, who was then with his wife and daughter, back inside the courtroom and into the toilet—in fear that something violent might happen!

A FUNNY thing happened when I met pareng Heber for the first time. It was the birthday of a colleague of mine from People’s Journal. We celebrated at the original Bamboo Giant at the tri-corner of Taft Avenue, Quirino Boulevard, and San Andres Street in Malate, Manila, and the legendary folk and rock icon were invited to perform.

I was introduced to him by the birthday celebrator and after shaking hands, we had a good time, especially so because sitting in front of us were three police generals, whose names I’ve already forgotten. It was certainly fun drinking with the chaps but more a bit shocking when pareng Heber got tipsy.

Lo and behold! While singing on the small stage of the Bamboo Giant, he pointed at me and pareng Heber said: “Pareng Tracy, labas mo na ‘yong o-mads!”

Everyone laughed, including the three generals.

IF you may recall, in our last column, we wrote as a starter something about former President Joseph ‘Erap’ Estrada whom I believe advertised his advocacy of caring for the less fortunate as a ploy to promote himself as a politician who is a ‘hero’ of the poor.

Sabi nga ‘di ba, “Erap para sa mahirap.”

The irony here is that we ended up praising the convicted plunderer who unknowingly to me had somehow have proven that he cared for the poor as he tried to initiate the appropriation of a property in Santa Ana for which he reportedly put up PhP12 million in a bank.

As I said, I don’t like Erap but I have to say he had done well when he tried to help those poor rascals who were living in the property and about to be thrown out after their houses are demolished on the orders of Erap’s predecessor.

However, when Erap lost to actor-turned-politician Francisco ‘Isko Moreno’ Domagoso, again these poor folks were under threat as the appropriation of the property was again set aside despite a proclamation against demolition by none other than President Rodrigo Duterte.

The Presidential Commission for the Urban Poor (PCUP) has previously raised concern over the incidence of demolitions and evictions in Metro Manila and other parts of the country amid the Covid-19 pandemic and it warned local government units (LGUs) if they fail to provide relocation or financial assistance to affected informal settler families.

Undersecretary Alvin Feliciano, PCUP chairperson, and chief executive officer cautioned that failure to provide relocation or financial assistance by LGUs to families affected by demolition and eviction is contrary to the provisions of Section 28 of Republic Act 7279 or the Urban Development and Housing Act of 1992 for a just and humane demolition.

The law clearly states that if the occupants of a lot or land are considered “underprivileged and homeless” who need to be demolished or evicted, it is only appropriate for the LGU to give the affected families the relocation or the provision of financial assistance first before proceeding the demolition, Feliciano stressed.

He lamented that there are still LGUs that do not follow the stipulations of the law—just like Isko Moreno has done in overturning a decision by his predecessor in the appropriation of the property in San Juan just because the new owners are allegedly rich and influential.

Magkano kaya ang kinita ng grupo ni Moreno sa transaksyong ito?

Isko and his denizens should remember what has been said by CEO Feliciano: “The PCUP will file appropriate cases against the LGUs that do not provide relocation or financial assistance to the families affected by the demolition and evictions.”

Furthermore, he added: “During the pandemic, the situation of families who have lost their homes is very deplorable, so we are asking the local governments to provide the assistance and subsidies needed by the victims of demolition and eviction.” (ai/mtvn)

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