Monday, January 29, 2007

Housing Problems highlights CBCP’s latest pastoral statement


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.


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.


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