THOUSANDS of informal settlers living along Manggahan Floodway may not participate in the May 10 elections, as they are set to be relocated in Laguna for the road widening project of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH).

The Urban Poor Associates (UPA), a housing rights non-government organization, said some 100,000 will be disenfranchised in the forthcoming electoral exercise as they are subject to demolition and eviction any time before the election.

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“Those of us living along Manggahan Floodway strongly object to the order of the president that will evict us. Now, we are forced to go to Calauan, Laguna on the last week of February or early March,” said Vicky Morante, President of Samahan ng Nagkakaisang Kababaihan sa Floodway Inc.

A number of them have already been evicted from their homes and are now relocated in Calauan, Laguna.

“If my family has to go to Calauan where there is no livelihood and 100 kilometers away from the city, how can we vote in this coming May election? The transportation will cost us a lot because I got three children who are also registered voters in Pasig. Will we not be accused of selling our votes if we accept pamasahe (transportation money) from candidates? Or can we still vote in Pasig even if we are already residing in Calauan? We are afraid we will not be able to exercise our right to vote. These are our concerns especially that a big number of urban poor families are affected of the issuance of Executive Order No. 854,” Morante said.

The group said they raised the issue as they do not want to experience what happened in the 2007 election, where 6,000 former railway dwellers in Makati affected by the North Rail and South Rail Linkage project were transferred to Southville Resettlement in Cabuyao.

The informal settlers staged a rally in front of the Commission on Election (Comelec) Regional Office in Laguna after Edgardo Collado and Oscar Ibay, both running for mayor in the city, filed a petition for exclusion against those who were relocated claiming the relocated voters had ceased to be bonafide residents of Makati City.

But the rallyists argued that they did not move out of Makati on their own volition but instead were forced to be relocated by the government to give way to the railway project.

In the process of relocation however only a few were able to register in Cabuyao. Most of them were not allowed to register because of the six-month residency requirement.

UPA Deputy Coordinator Teodoro Anana said the issue should be settled so that they will be able to vote in the May 10, polls.

“This is a major issue that should be addressed in this time. As we are all busy pushing for credible election let us not allow the urban poor be disenfranchised. Their right to vote should never be compromised,” said UPA Deputy Coordinator Teodoro Anana.

The Task Force Anti-Eviction group composed of various people’s organizations and NGOs such as UPA, Community Organizers Multiversity (COM) and Community Organization of the Philippine Enterprise (COPE) Foundation are calling for a one year-moratorium on demolitions as big numbers of urban poor may be deprived of their right of suffrage this coming elections. (FP/Sunnex)