Barack Obama is CO

sept 5


By Cha Monforte

Well, Barack Obama was a community organizer (CO) you know. Before he went to excel in Harvard law school and after graduating from Columbia University in 1983 with a major in political science, Obama worked as a financial consultant in New York City . But he was bored—and drawn to work as a CO for three years in Chicago . There he organized African blacks, the grassroots and average people like those living in the ghettos, the urban poor in US, for many causes including public housing.

Today’s “biggest celebrity in the world”, to borrow a counter-spin of Republican nominee John McCain, has admitted that his exposure as a CO has most impact on him as politician. Analysts say that’s the reason why Obama became an effective legislator and an audacious public speaker. I have much confidence that Obama could win for the US presidency by November.

Now if Obama could be given a say on the proposed ordinance of the Tagum City Councilor Nicandro Suaybaguio Jr who wants to stop urban poor housing for five years in the city, I bet, the front-running Democratic presidential nominee would easily say, “Yes, the urban poor can”. He will thumb down Nickel’s wayward measure that he would submit for readings at the city council by Monday.

Vice President Noli de Castro, the country’s housing czar, should he come across with Suaybaguio’s measure, would also probably say, “hindi naman dapat ganon… OK, tingnan natin yan”. Tingni!

Let’s see how wayward really is Suaybaguio’s measure. He says that he will craft yet the city’s housing code (or is he referring this to comprehensive shelter plan which took about seven years for the Davao City Council to fully refine, complete and approve?). So there, even without the housing code, which will show the acute housing backlog in the city, which is about 28,000 families requiring at least 280 hectares, Suaybaguio is already making a shortcut by stopping the urban poor to make contribution in addressing the housing problem in the city.

If Suaybaguio’s wayward measure isn’t stopped in independent nominal voting in the way the nematicide-banning measure of Councilor Joedel Caasi was killed by the majority last Monday, then it would pass without extensive study and research, to borrow the reasons of Councilors Rey Salve and SK prexy Cyril Muring in frustrating Caasi.

The city councilors, whom I believe could still independently rise to occasion of erroneous and insufficient measure, wherever it came from, should be appraised that Suaybaguio’s measure is grossly insufficient in substance for taking wrong assumptions. It’s not the form as there’s always easy template for it.

When it defers the issuance of the approval of all documents relating urban poor subdivision, it right away closes the city’s door to access national socialized housing funds such as CMP of the strengthened Social Housing Finance Corp, MMP of NHA, GLAD of Pag-ibig Fund, congressional funds and the like. It also automatically bars other alternative social housing schemes for the poor espoused by Churches such as the Habitat and Gawad Kalinga and by the civil society and cooperatives.

In our series, we’ve always emphasized the need for counterparting, convergence and partnership among stakeholders and the combination of various shelter modes and strategies in addressing the city’s acute housing backlog. The city government could not just do it alone, which is otherwise misplaced as an assumption underlying in Suaybaguio’s measure.

Housing developers could not also do it alone even as they cater only to the middle and high-end markets, and not to the informal sector. But if developers could have the heyday in buying lands within the 5-year deferment period, expect more price speculations among landowners in the city, assuming that they could seize good market from the middle-and-up sectors. This could potentially trigger rise of the selling prices of even agricultural lands for which after the five-year prohibition period it can further bar the urban poor from owning affordable offsite lands via CMP.

Suaybaguio’s measure would also mean the stoppage of onsite CMP projects in the city. For putting no exemption on this, urban poor already occupying lands in city centers will have no chance at all to buy the lands they occupy via the CMP during the deferment period. (For online edition, visit my blog at:


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