Friday, June 29, 2007

Urban and rural poor dwellers under siege by demolition-freak government

The Urban Poor Associates (UPA) is a human rights non-government organization working to promote and protect the right to adequate housing for everyone, everywhere, including preventing or remedying forced evictions.

UPA is concerned about reports of brutal forced evictions and unlawful demolitions happening in and out of the Metro, the latest of which killed a muslim in Baclaran and 9 tribesmen in Kalinga province.

UPA is concerned that these evictions breach both domestic and international human rights law.

Article XIII, Section 10 of the Philippine Constitution explicitly provides that "Urban or rural poor dwellers shall not be evicted nor their dwellings demolished, except in accordance with law and in a just and humane manner."

The legal process intimated by Article XIII, Section 10 was in turn adopted through statute under Republic Act No. 7279, otherwise known as the Urban Development and Housing Act of 1992 (UDHA).

Section 28 of the provision states that "Eviction or demolition as a practice shall be discouraged." However, under certain circumstances evictions may be allowed, but must comply with eight mandatory requirements, including: "Adequate consultations on the matter of settlement with the duly designated representatives of the families to be resettled and the affected communities in the areas where they are to be relocated;" and " Adequate relocation".

Furthermore, Executive Order no. 152, issued on December 10, 2002, instructs all government officials to secure a Certificate of Compliance (COC) from the Presidential Commission for the Urban Poor (PCUP) to ensure that procedures for a just and humane demolition, as mandated by the Constitution and as set out in the UHDA are followed.

As a State Party to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the Government of the Philippines is legally obliged to respect the right to adequate housing, including the prohibition on forced evictions, as guaranteed under Article 11(1).

According to General Comment No. 7 of the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, which is mandated to monitor compliance with the Covenant, forced evictions can only be justified in very rare and exceptional circumstances and even then must occur in the context of specific procedural protections.

Furthermore, and in any event, forced eviction shall not result in rendering individuals homeless or vulnerable to the violation of other human rights.

Indeed, the Philippines is obligated to ensure that adequate alternative housing and compensation for all losses is made available to affected persons.

In terms of international human rights law, for forced evictions to be considered as lawful, they may only occur in very “exceptional circumstances” and “all feasible alternatives” must be explored. If and only if such “exceptional circumstances” exist and there are no feasible alternatives, can evictions be deemed justified. However, in those rare cases where eviction is considered justified, it must be carried out in strict compliance with international human rights law and in accordance with general principles of reasonableness and proportionality.

These include, inter alia:
۰ Genuine consultation with those affected;
۰ Adequate and reasonable notice for all affected persons prior to the scheduled date of eviction;
۰ Information on the proposed evictions, and where applicable, on the alternative purpose for which the land or housing is to be used, to be made available in reasonable time to all those affected;
۰ Especially where groups of people are involved, government officials or their representatives to be present during an eviction;
۰ All persons carrying out the eviction to be properly identified;
۰ Evictions not to take place in particularly bad weather or at night unless the affected persons consent otherwise;
۰ Provision of legal remedies; and
۰ Provision, where possible, of legal aid to persons who are in need of it to seek redress from the courts.

Therefore, UPA urges the government to:
1. Immediately cease all forced evictions and reconsider any plan that would result in forced eviction;

2. Identify, in consultation with those affected, adequate alternative accommodation and relocation to all those rendered homeless by the recent forced evictions, and establish adequate mechanisms for compensation and other remedies to those previously evicted;

3. Order an impartial and independent inquiry into the violence and promptly make the findings public;

4. Ensure that all officials, government agencies and police personnel who are responsible for human rights violations, including the excessive use of force, or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, are prosecuted;

5. Comply with treaty obligations incumbent upon the Philippines to submit a report to the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, which the Philippine government has not done since 1995.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

NHA demolishes houses along South Railway project

1,000 shanties demolished in Manila for NorthRail project

Houses near Sta. Mesa railroad tracks demolished

Friday, June 15, 2007

Bishop Pabillo asked to help evicted Muslim families in Baclaran

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

Ref: John Francis Lagman


Bishop Pabillo asked to help evicted Muslim families in Baclaran

15 June 2007. In a desperate move and very rare opportunity, some 332 evicted Muslim families in Baclaran have asked a Catholic Bishop to send their message to President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and various government agencies.

Led by Abdelmanan Tanandato, president of Samahan Ng Nagkaka-Isang Na-Demolis Sa Roxas Blvd. Baclaran, P.C., Muslim leaders went to Sto. Niño Parish in Tondo yesterday to personally deliver a letter to Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo, Housing Committee Chairman of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP).

The leaders are hesitant to directly deliver their letter to PGMA at the Malacañang receiving section for fear that it may only end up in the waste basket. “Humihingi po kami ng tulong sa inyo dahil wala na po kaming maisip na paraan upang makarating sa Pangulo ang aming liham,” Tanandato told the Bishop in a letter.

Tanandato requested Bishop Pabillo to send their message through Malacañang's Religious Affairs Office “Hindi na po kami lumapit sa Office of Muslim Affairs (OMA) dahil ito po ang naging dahilan ng hindi makataong demolition at forcible eviction sa amin,” the letter read.

With an endorsement from Bishop Pabillo, the Muslim families hope to send their message to the government as quickly as possible to prevent bloodshed as a cause of a violent eviction that may be enforce by Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) unit.

Despite the P30,000 ‘disturbance pay’ being offered by the Philippine Reclamation Authority (PRA), many Muslim families opted instead to fight for their relocation. As a result, last June 7 several people were hurt as the demolition team and antiriot policemen pushed, shoved and battered their way into the human barricade formed by residents. The residents retreated to the Grand Mosque for sanctuary and struggled for days to save the Mosque from demolition.

At the Office of the Ombudsman and the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) last June 13, Muslim leaders together with the residents’ legal counsel Sultan of Lanao Firdausi Ismail Yahja Abbas filed criminal cases for unlawful demolition, interruption of religious worship, offending the religious feelings, less-serious physical injuries, grave threats and grave coercion, violation of the Anti-graft and Corrupt Practices Act. Charges were filed against Andrea Domingo (PRA General Manager / CEO), Oscar Sanchez (PRA Assistant General Manager), Chief Superintendent Sukarno Ikbala, Police Senior Inspector Lerpon Platon, Police Senior Superintendent Salim Sahiron and Senior Superintendent Marieto Valerio.

Lashing out at the government’s defiance to the CBCP Statement on the Nation’s Housing Problems and for failing to house the poor, the Urban Poor Associates (UPA), a non-government organization that monitors forced evictions, expressed concerns about increasing number of violent demolitions. “Thousands of poor families are being evicted by various government agencies now that the midterm election is over,” said Teodoro Añana, deputy coordinator of UPA.

According to UPA, the following areas seem certain to be cleared of urban poor settlers this year: C5, R-10 Navotas, Northrail and Southrail, Pasig River (10-meter easement) and Esteros.

UPA called on newly elected Senators and Congressmen for total involvement as legislators and housing rights advocates. “We seek improvements in the law but we realize good laws are not enough and that it requires strong political will to achieve results,” Añana said. -30-

*Letter to Bishop Pabillo

June 14, 2007

His Excellency
Most Rev. Broderick S. Pabillo, D.D.
Auxiliary Bishop of Manila

Dear Bishop Pabillo,

Humihingi po kami ng tulong sa inyo dahil wala na po kaming maisip na paraan upang makarating sa Pangulo ang aming liham. Hindi na po kami lumapit sa Office of Muslim Affairs (OMA) dahil ito po ang naging dahilan ng hindi makataong demolition at forcible eviction sa amin.

Umaasa po kami na maipaparating ang aming mensahe kay Pangulong Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo upang maiwasan ang anumang kaguluhan. Balita po kasi namin na lulusubin ng SWAT ang aming Mosque upang puwersahan po kaming paalisin at gibain ito. Hindi po namin masisiguro na walang mangyayaring karahasan pero kung hindi kikilalanin ang aming karapatan at paniniwala, baka po maaaring maging sanhi ito ng pagdanak ng dugo. Sa ngayon po ay binakuran na kami ng barb wire, pinutol ang kuryente at maiinom naming tubig. Maraming mga bata na sa ngayon ang nagkakasakit dahil dito.

Hindi po kami tutol na umalis sa Mosque kung meron po kaming relokasyon na malapit sa aming hanap-buhay at paaralan ng aming mga anak. Importante rin po na may maayos na paglilipatan ang aming Mosque.

Umaasa po kami sa inyong suporta.

Maraming salamat po.

Lubos na gumagalang,

Samahan Ng Nagkaka-Isang Na-Demolis Sa Roxas Blvd. Baclaran, P.C.
Bgy. 76, Pasay City

*Letter to the President

Ika-13 ng Hunyo, 2007

Her Excellency Gloria Macapagal Arroyo
President, Republic of the Philippines
Malacañang Palace, Manila

Mahal naming Pangulo,

Umaasa po kami na mabuti ang inyong kalusugan, sampu ng inyong mga mahal sa buhay.

Sumulat po kami sa inyo para humingi ng tulong para sa aming mahirap at maselang kalagayan sa kasalukuyan, lalo na ang aming mga anak, mga kababaihan, at mga nakakatandang miyembro ng aming mga pamilya. Ito ay dahil sa nangyaring marahas, sapilitan, at hindi makataong demolisyon sa aming mga kabahayan noong ika-07 ng Hunyo. Ang masakit pa, pagkatapos ng demolisyon, pinutulan kami ng kuryente at tubig. Hindi kami makapaghanapbuhay at karamihan sa aming mga anak ay nawalan ng pagkakataong makapasok sa eskuwela sa taong ito. Maraming mga bata ang maysakit sa ngayon. Nagsisiksikan kaming tatlong-daang (300) pamilya sa Grand Mosque na nagsisilbing pansamantalang tirahan namin sa kasalukuyan.

Kaugnay po dito, walang pagtutol sa amin na paalisin kami kung may relokasyon sa mga pamilya at sa mosque. Hiling lang po namin na sana mabigyan kami ng pagkakataon ng ating pamahalaan sa pamamagitan ninyo bilang aming Pangulo.

Ang mga sumusunod ay nais naming hilingin sa inyo:

• Mabigyan kami ng relokasyon na malapit sa aming hanapbuhay.
• Irespeto ang presensya ng aming Grand Mosque. Tuparin ang pangakong lugar para sa relokasyon nito. Sang-ayon kami na ito ay ilipat sa Nayong Pilipino. Kung maaari, dagdagan ang laki ng lupa para sa mga pamilyang nawalan ng tahanan.
• Pagbabalik ng mga batayang serbisyo na pinutol kagaya ng tubig at kuryente. Huwag harangin ang water delivery truck na nagsu-supply ng tubig sa mga residente.
• Agarang pagpapadala ng gamot. Dumarami ang nagkakasakit lalo na ang mga bata.
• Ipatigil ang “harassment” na ginagawa ng PRA o Philippine Reclamation Authority. Tanggalin ang barbed wire na nakaharang sa paligid ng mosque. Delikado ito sa mga bata lalo na kung gabi dahil walang kuryente.
• Hayaang makapagtinda kami sa Baclaran habang hindi pa nakaka-recover sa nangyaring demolisyon. Hiling namin na ipatigil ang mga harassment na ginagawa ng MMDA. Humigit-kumulang 95% sa nademolis na pamilya ay vendors.
• Dagliang makagawa ng mekanismo kung saan makakahabol sa pag-aaral ang humigit-kumulang isangdaang (100) batang mag-aaral. Natigil ito nang mangyari ang demolisyon.
• Habang isinasagawa ang negosasyon, sana ay walang demolisyon sa mosque at huwag paalisin sa aming mga pamilyang pansamantalang nakatira dito.
Umaasa po kami sa inyong suporta at dagliang pagtugon sa aming kahilingan. Marami pong salamat.

Lubos na gumagalang,

Abdelmanan D. Tanandato
Samahan Ng Nagkaka-Isang Na-Demolis Sa Roxas Blvd. Baclaran P.C.
Brgy. 76, Pasay City

Copy Furnished:

Vice President Noli de Castro
Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC)

Purificacion C. Valera Quisumbing
Commission on Human Rights (CHR)

Percival Chavez
Presidential Commission for the Urban Poor (PCUP)

Dr. Esperanza I. Cabral
Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD)

Andrea Domingo
General Manager and CEO
Philippine Reclamation Authority (PRA)

Undersecretary Sultan Yahya "Jerry" Tomawis
Executive Director
Office of Muslim Affairs (OMA)

Allan Panaligan
Pasay City

Thursday, June 07, 2007