Monday, January 29, 2007

Housing Problems highlights CBCP’s latest pastoral statement


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Housing Problems highlights CBCP’s latest pastoral statement

29 January 2007. “Binabati namin po kayong lahat sa oras na ito. Kung sino man ang maawa sa amin. Hihingi po kami sana ng tulong pang-dagdag pamasahe sa Cagayan Valley. Dito lang kami kalsada natutulog. Wala kaming tahanan. Kaya gusto naming umuwi na.”

These are the words written beside a “kariton” which is home for 1 ½ year old baby Sharon and 6 more children of Antonio and Cristy Bautista. “Pinaalis kami ng may-ari ng bahay sa Payatas kaya andito kami ngayon sa kalsada. Pag gabi sa City Hall kami natutulog. Pero gusto na naming bumalik sa Amulong, Cagayan,” said 44-year old Antonio, a scavenger.

Bautista Family is only one of the increasing number of street families in Metro Manila caused mainly by forced evictions and illegal demolitions, according to the Urban Poor Associates (UPA), a non-government organization working on housing rights issues.

“For more than 5 million people in Metro Manila, there is literally no place like home because they do not have decent housing, clean inexpensive water, sanitation drainage, security of tenure, health care, good schools and employment. Hence they live in squalor unfit for human beings,” the UPA said in a statement.

Lack of adequate housing highlights a key concern for Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) this year in a Pastoral Statement signed yesterday by CBCP President Archbishop Angel N. Lagdameo.

"Any person or family that, without any direct fault on his or her own, does not have suitable housing is the victim of an injustice," the pastoral statement read.

“We call the attention of our people to a grave problem that many, especially among the urban poor, suffer the lack of adequate housing. Their inadequacy breeds other problems such as immoralities in the home, the abuse of children, the lack of education of many young people, unhygienic conditions in the family, joblessness among the people, malnutrition of children, and criminality,” said Archbishop Lagdameo. “We call on those concerned to stop uncaring evictions and demolitions. We have laws in the land that tell us the proper processes for eviction. Let these laws be respected and followed, especially by law-enforcing agencies.”

UPA’s annual demolition report shows the following:

•From January to December 2006 some 7,635 families lost their houses due to demolitions.

•Some 261 families or 3.41% did so due to court orders.

•Government did most of the demolitions. Local government units demolished the houses of some 1,102 families (15.37%), while the University of the Philippines in Diliman demolished the houses of some 166.

•National government agencies ordered the demolition of the houses of some 6,034 families: PNR and NHA some 4,500 families, the DPWH some 800 families, the Philippine Army and MMDA some 806 families.

•Five demolitions involving 1,911 families (25%) were violent.

Conclusion:

From 2001 to 2004, the number of demolitions in Metro Manila went down. This coincides more or less with positive developments in 2001 to 2003 when government allocated urban lands for socialized housing through presidential proclamations and some reforms in the government’s community mortgage program.

As shown in Urban Poor Associates’ monitoring of demolitions in Metro Manila since 1996, the number of demolitions went down during national elections (1998, 2004) and EDSA II.
Metro Manila

YEAR No. of Demolitions Number of FamiliesAffected Comments
1996 72 6,975 APEC-related demolitions to beautify Metro Manila
1997 16 8,067 Sta Elena Compound,Binondo, R-10, Sitio Mendez, Smokey Mountain
1998 20 3,882 National election
1999 36 7,873 New Bilibid Prison eviction of land invaders; more demolitions in private lands than government
2000 29 6,059 Pasig River, Flood Control, R-10
2001 13 2,073 EDSA II. PGMA instruction no demolition without in-city relocation, a defacto moratorium on demolitions
2002 15 1,043 PGMA instruction no demolition without in-city relocation, a defacto moratorium on demolitions
2003 26 4,315 MMDA clearing operation
2004 8 925 National Election
2005 26 2,074+ 20,000 (north rail in Valenzuela and Bulacan)=22,074 families Northrail Project
2006 Jan to December 7,635 Southrail project, Fort Bonifacio proclaimed lands, R-10

The demolitions in 2006 marked the almost complete turn around of the administration of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo from its pro-urban poor stance in 2001: no more violent demolitions, in-city or near city relocation and on-site development through presidential proclamations and the community mortgage program. From pro-poor to anti-poor, as most in civil society organizations would say today.

In 2005 and 2006, a number of church leaders, including Manila Archbishop Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales, became alarmed with the way the government implemented its north and southrail linkage project. Taking up the issues of the affected families, they wrote to the president and to the vice president.

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For interviews with Urban Poor Associates (UPA) or additional information please contact UPA’s Media Advocacy Officer, John Lagman on 632) 4264118
Urban Poor Associates
25-A Mabuhay Street, Brgy. Central, Q.C.
Telefax: 4264118 Tel.: 4264119 / 4267615
Ref: John Francis Lagman
http://www.flickr.com/photos/jlagman17

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Urban poor hit Mayor Atienza for illegal demolition

Urban Poor Associates
25-A Mabuhay Street, Brgy. Central, Q.C.
Telefax: 4264118 Tel.: 4264119 / 4267615

Ref: John Francis Lagman
http://www.flickr.com/photos/jlagman17

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Urban poor hit Mayor Atienza for illegal demolition

23 January 2007, Manila. “Mabuti pa ang basura may paglalagyan, kami wala.”

Angry urban poor residents branded as illegal the demolitions being conducted by the City Engineering Office of Manila on their settlements under Quezon Bridge in Quiapo a week after the celebration of the 400th anniversary of the Black Nazarene.

With armed police escorts, the demolitions took place catching the residents by surprise since there were no demolition notices. People say they felt betrayed because most of the residents supported Mayor Lito Atienza during the past elections.

The city government has been doing it for several days beginning last week as part of its Quinta Market renovation project. They want to transfer the market vendors under the bridge as well as demolish the houses of the residents, according to Urban Poor Associates (UPA), a non-government organization working with urban poor issues.

“About 100 families were forced to live in the streets because demolished residents do not have temporary shelter. Many children have stopped schooling and are exposed to vehicular accidents,” said Teodoro AƱana, UPA deputy coordinator.

Five-year old John Joshua Pangan, one of the demolished residents, was still at the Popular Memorial Chapel in Rizal Avenue, Sta. Cruz as of today because his family cannot afford the funeral expenses worth 20,000 Pesos. Pangan was a victim of hit and run in Palanca Street last Saturday and was declared dead upon arrival at the Philippine General Hospital. The jeepney driver who tried to escape from the vehicular accident was caught and detained in Traffic Bureau, Pier Area.

“Patay na yung nanay ni John Joshua at yung tatay naman ay walang pambayad dahil nagsa-sidecar lang. Isa pa, walang pagbuburulan dito dahil may demolisyon. Halos lahat nga dito ay pakalat-kalat, walang mahigaan kaya sa bangketa na lang natutulog,” said 57-year old Mercedes Ruiz, a resident under the bridge since birth.

Ruiz pleaded that the homes of remaining 200 families be spared from the on-going demolitions until a relocation site is given. She also worries about displacement from their livelihood.

Last November 22, the local government of Manila demolished the houses of some 50 families in the same community. City hall did not secure a certificate of compliance from the Presidential Commission for the Urban Poor (PCUP) prior to the demolition as required by Executive Order 152 of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, according to Onesimo Foundation, a non-government organization helping streetchildren.

“The Urban Settlements Office did not conduct consultations, neither did it provide relocation to the affected families as required by section 28 of the Urban Development and Housing Act (UDHA), said Daniel Wartenweiler, coordinator of Onesimo Bulilit. -30-

For interviews with Urban Poor Associates (UPA) or additional information please contact UPA’s Media Advocacy Officer, John Lagman on (632) 4264118

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

TRO sought against MMDA, DPWH to stop eviction

Urban Poor Associates
25-A Mabuhay Street, Brgy. Central, Q.C.
Telefax: 4264118 Tel.: 4264119 / 4267615
Ref: John Francis Lagman
http://jlagman17.blogspot.com

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TRO sought against MMDA, DPWH to stop eviction

17 January 2007, Manila. Fighting for their right to put roofs over their heads, informal settlers are seeking a temporary restraining order against Chairman Bayani Fernando of the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) and Dir. Josefino Rigor of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) to prevent their eviction and the demolition of their houses located under San Andres Bridge 1 along South Super Highway, Paco, Manila.

The settlers composed of 54 families who live for more than 14 years at the community located along Estero Tripa de Gallina, a jurisdiction of Brgy. 734 and Brgy 735, filed their petition for a TRO and preliminary injunction January 12 at the Manila Regional Trial Court.

Based on a raffle held last Monday, the presiding judge who would handle the case is Judge Tita Bughao Alisuag of RTC Branch 1, according to the Urban Poor Associates (UPA) in a statement.

Led by Alberta Abenaza, president of Samahan ng mga Taga Ilalim ng Tulay Neighborhood Association (SAINT), ten petitioners have executed their sworn statements that beginning in October 2006 MMDA and DPWH threatened and continue to threaten to demolish their homes without offering relocation sites.

“Ang aming pamilya ay nangangamba na baka sa anumang oras ay sapilitan kaming paalisin sa aming tinitirhan. Mahigit anim na taon na naming nilalakad ang ibat-ibang ahensya ng ating pamahalaan para mabigyan na kami ng relokasyon subalit wala kaming nakuha kundi puro pangakong walang kasagutan. Hirap na hirap na po kami. Nawawalan na po kami ng pag-asa,” said Abenaza.

Through petitioner’s representations with its officials, MMDA has deferred its plan to evict plaintiffs but with a promise and assurance that it will pursue its plan to demolish and evict the plaintiffs pursuant to its beautification program “Metro Gwapo”.

DPWH, on the other hand, without any written notice and dialogue with the petitioners, has verbally informed the residents that it will demolish the petitioner’s houses due to the repair of the bridge.

“Respondents intended action to demolish and evict the petitioners without consultation and more importantly, without any provision for adequate relocation as mandated by the Constitution and Republic Act 7279 also known as Urban Development and Housing Act (UDHA) is gross violation of the law and it runs afoul with the provisions of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR),” said Atty. Bienvenido A. Salinas 2nd, coordinator of UPA’s legal unit, St. Thomas More Law Center.

UPA is a non-government organization established to educate families in housing rights matters and assist communities in eviction crises. It has helped thousands of families to relocate in-city or at least prevent the never-ending cycle of homelessness. -30-

For interviews with Urban Poor Associates (UPA) or additional information please contact UPA’s Media Advocacy Officer, John Lagman on (632) 4264118