Thursday, February 25, 2010

CHR vows to investigate violent R-10 Navotas demolition


CHR vows to investigate violent R-10 Navotas demolition

25 February 2010. Chairperson Leila de Lima of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) yesterday vowed to investigate a violent demolition along the R-10 road in Navotas, involving some personnel of the local government, Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), Navotas Engineering Office, Navotas Police and Navotas Fire Station.

Chairperson de Lima said she will subpoena those who were involved particularly the Navotas policemen who beat up poor women old enough to be their grandmothers.

Women and children wouldn’t disperse from a human barricade they had formed on Jan. 20 to protect their homes against actions of the DPWH which they believed were illegal. They live on land designated for the widening of R-10 road that runs along Manila Bay.

Some of the sixteen women beaten by police sought the protection of CHR during a hearing yesterday. They presented pictures showing their wounds, bandaged toes and the lesions on their arms sustained from the shields and clubs used against them. The women were also water cannoned from a distance of a few feet.

The use of water cannons is illegal in such evictions, according to lawyer Ritche Esponilla of Urban Poor Associates (UPA). Esponilla helped the women in filing a joint affidavit at the CHR right after the forced eviction.

“The Presidential Commission for the Urban Poor (PCUP) itself wrote a letter of concern saying the Certificate of Compliance (COC) issued by the Navotas Local Housing Board to DPWH is not in accordance with the law,” Esponilla pointed out.

“The demolition is illegal because they went ahead with another questionable way to plan the eviction. Instead of relocation, the DPWH offered P21,000 to families to move, an alternative not mentioned in Urban Development and Housing Act of 1992,” Esponilla added.

Esponilla and leaders of Samahang Pinagbuklod ng Pagkakaisa (SAPIPA) went to the Supreme Court on Jan. 15 to file a very urgent motion for early resolution of petition with reiterative prayer for the issuance of preliminary injunction and/or temporary restraining order (TRO). Petitioners filed their petition on April 16, 2008. The High Court gave due course to the said petition although it did not issue the injunction or TRO sought for. The instant petition had not been resolve yet.

The residents agree to move and they qualify for the relocation, according to Task Force Anti Eviction, an eviction watchdog composed of community organizations and NGOs such as UPA, Community Organization for the Philippine Enterprise (COPE), and Community Organizers Multiversity (COM). “In fact R-10 Navotas is listed as among the 11 priority areas for Montalban relocation which is certified by the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC),” the group said

“We are not against development. We were just protecting our homes and our rights as human beings. They don’t have to use shields, truncheons and water cannons against women and children,” said Prescilda Juanich, leader of SAPIPA.

Chairperson de Lima told her lawyers to write letters inviting those who were involved in the demolition, including Navotas City Mayor Toby Tiangco to justify their actions. “Why do they have to inflict injuries? There should be a cease and desist order pending the investigation,” de Lima said. -30-

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