The 1960s saw the influx of migrants from the countryside to the urban centers thinking that life is better in the cities. The host cities, however, were not prepared to provide immediate employment opportunities, decent housing and basic services to the migrants so they remain unemployed or underpaid and unable to support themselves. Worst, they end up poorer thereby magnifying the growing urban poor statistics. The fear of ejection and violence haunted the poor as they struggled for their place in society. When their situation worsened during the 1980s, urban poor groups banded together in search of possible solutions to their problems as well as opportunities for consultation on matters that affect them.
“Two months after the February political revolt, on April 10, 1986 the Kongreso ng Pagkakaisa ng Maralitang Lungsod, or KPML, had a dialogue with President Corazon C. Aquino and demanded for a moratorium on demolition, and for the establishment of the Presidential Arm on Urban Poor Affairs (PAUPA), a government unit that would allow avenues for the poor for consultation and participation on things that concern them.
On May 30 to June 2, 1986, another alliance was formed, the National Congress of Urban Poor Organizations (NACUPO), composed of two major groups of varying ideological leanings. This new organization pursued the same issues raised during their April 10 march to Malacanang. They stated, however, that they wanted to change PAUPA to PCUP or Presidential Council on Urban Poor.
On December 8, 1986, President Aquino issued Executive Order No. 82 which created PCUP, mainly a coordinative and advocacy body mandated to serve as the direct link of the urban poor to the government in policy formulation and program implementation addressed to their needs”.
Indeed, the creation of PCUP is one of the noblest and greatest legacy of President Corazon C. Aquino and a manifestation of her love and respect for the rights and sentiments of the urban poor. It is only in the Philippines that the Office of the President has an agency directly looking after the concerns of the urban poor. Being the coordinating and monitoring arm of the President, PCUP has a direct reportorial function to the Office of the President.
This mandate was reinforced on January 30, 1989 by Administrative Order No.111 directing concerned government departments, agencies and offices to coordinate with PCUP and actively participate in activities concerning the urban poor.
Significant gains were attained but the advent of urbanization lured more people to the metropolis and compounded the problem. On September 27, 2004, Former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, issued Executive Order No.364, transforming the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) into the Department of Land Reform (DLR) which included the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) and the PCUP to take charge of ancestral domain reform and urban land reform, respectively. Executive Order No. 456 dated August 23, 2005 renamed the DLR as DAR.