Friday July 20, 2018

Sanchez: Bacolod's urban poor

NO LESS than Ayala Land Inc. president and CEO Bernard Vincent Dy affirmed that "Bacolod is a key area, a city poised for rapid growth. And we are privileged to be given this opportunity to work with all you as partners in this project."

In fact, an online research asserted that out of 122 Philippine cities, Bacolod scored number 1 as the most livable city of 2012. I'm sure many Negrenses in rural areas can agree to that. Many out-of-town residents are moving to Bacolod City to look mainly for work and to study. Many farmers eventually decide to live and work in the city as informal settlers and remedio generales.

During the Ms. Lin-ay pageant during the Panaad festivities, I was struck that the candidates representing outlying towns and cities have in fact relocated with their families mainly in Bacolod. Of course, most of the candidates are students in the city.

Highly-urbanized Bacolod is attracting them all - the rich and especially the rural poor. Farmers are becoming laborers in the big cities. As Commissioner Ma. Joy Jarabelo of the Presidential Commission of the Urban Poor noted, the increasing trend of urban poor population is due to in-migration.

According to a 2013 study of the Philippines Statistics Authority, 58.4 percent of the population of Negros Occidental (excluding Bacolod) now live in urban areas. Compare that to the national stats where a mere 45.3 percent population live in urban areas. The same study shows that at least 90 percent of those classified as urban population live in cities of Cadiz, San Carlos, and Bacolod in Negros Occidental.

Unbelievable. But the Negrense skewed growth reflects the global trend. Currently, 54 per cent of the world's population lives in urban areas, a proportion that is expected to increase to 66 percent by 2050. Projections show that urbanization combined with the overall growth of the world's population could add another 2.5 billion people to urban populations by 2050, according to the 2014 UN report World Urbanization Prospects.

"Managing urban areas has become one of the most important development challenges of the 21st century. Our success or failure in building sustainable cities will be a major factor in the success of the post-2015 UN development agenda," said John Wilmoth, Director of UN DESA's Population Division.

Cities like Bacolod are centers for ideas, commerce, culture, science, productivity, social development, and much more. Many cities have enabled former rural folks to advance socially and economically. They're natural magnets for the rural poor in search of the proverbial greener pastures.

The urban population growth is concentrated in the less developed regions of the world. It is estimated that by 2017, even in less developed countries, a majority of people will be living in the slums of urban areas, according to the World Health Organization.

Informal settlements are densely populated and lack basic property rights and access to critical infrastructure, such as clean water and sanitation. They are also often most at risk in the event of environmental hazards. The Bacolod local government vowed to remove informal settlers who moved in hazard-prone areas.

The Urban Development and Housing Act of 1992 mandates the State to uplift the conditions of the underprivileged and homeless citizens in urban areas and in resettlements areas by making available to them decent housing at affordable cost, basic services, and employment opportunities and to reduce urban dysfunctions, particularly those that adversely affect public health, safety, and ecology.

The challenge for Bacolod would be to thrive and grow, while improving resource use and reducing pollution and poverty. The future Bacoleños want is to create a city of opportunities, with access to basic services, energy, housing, transportation and more for all.