Saturday, March 25, 2006

Protesting Evicted Southrail Families to be evicted from CHR compound

***NEWS RELEASE*** NEWS RELEASE *** NEWS RELEASE ***

For Immediate Release
April 11, 2006

Protesting Evicted Southrail Families to be evicted from CHR compound

Some 20 railway families from San Antonio Makati City have camped out and built cardboard lean-tos at the compound of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) along the Commonwealth Avenue to press the government to immediately address their concerns. They at first camped out in front of the National Housing Authority (NHA), along the Elliptical Road in Quezon City on April 5 but on April 6 they were threatened with dispersal by Quezon City policemen and so decided to transfer to the CHR compound.

Their houses were demolished by the NHA and the the Local Inter-Agency Committee (LIAC) to give way for the Northrail-Southrail Linkage Project (NSLP). Contrary to the government's position, they assert that they have the right to be given relocation. Now their rights to express their grievances and to seek redress are also being denied.

“Kami ay biktima ng rehabilitasyon ng PNR na di nabigyan ng relokasyon. Para kaming mga hayop na itinapon ng NHA sa kung saan-saan. Para di maharas ang aming mga kasama sa bangis ng mga pulis, naging atrasan namin ang CHR upang maging pansamantalang kanlungan habang inilalaban namin ang aming karapatan sa paninirahan” said Glenn Loloy, leader of Samahan ng Maralita sa San Antonio (SAMASA).

Until today, these families have been enduring hunger and sickness being exposed to the natural elements. Among them are 4 babies, 14 children, 3 pregnant women and 2 elderly. The poor families fear another forced eviction by the UP Police if National Capital Region CHR Commissioner Wildhen Soriano will not consider their petition to temporarily stay on the CHR grounds while looking for a staging area.

The Urban Poor Associates (UPA), a non-government organization that helps thousands of poor railway families facing evictions, condemned the government’s insensitivity to the needs of the evicted families. “The inhuman eviction being practiced by the NHA, Philippine National Railways (PNR) and the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC) violates the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights which guarantees everyone the right to adequate housing,” said Teodoro Añaña, coordinator of the Eviction Watch of the Asian Coalition for Housing Rights. "It violates the international principle that evictions should not render anyone homeless. Since the railway project is a foreign funded project it is covered also by the guidelines on international cooperation between nations, in this case, the Philippines and South Korea, which prohibit massive forced evictions."

The Philippines is a signatory to the International Covenant on Economics, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), a international treaty that obliges the Philippines to respect, protect and fulfill the right to adequate housing. Furthermore, the Urban Development and Housing Act (UDHA) conform with the guidelines of the United Nations on eviction process which states that a relocation/resettlement plan should be prepared and implemented which allocates sufficient resources to ensure that those affected are fairly compensated and rehabilitated to at least their former socio-economic level.

More than a hundred railway families were forcibly evicted by the NHA, PNR and the LIAC last April 4 in Barangays San Antonio, Magallanes and Pio del Pilar in Makati City. Hundreds of demolition crews escorted by policemen implemented the demolition activity. Some families have chosen to accept a distant relocation at the Southville Housing Project in Cabuyao Laguna despite its disgraceful condition and lack of livelihood opportunities. However, many of them were tagged by the NHA as ‘disqualified’ for relocation because they have failed to secure necessary documents. -30-

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