Thursday, April 20, 2006

Central Avenue demolition left hundreds homeless

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For Immediate Release on April 20, 2006

Central Avenue demolition left hundreds homeless

More than three hundred families residing along Central Avenue in Barangays New Era and Culiat in Quezon City were forcibly evicted by Task Force Control on Prevention of all illegal Structures and Squatting (COPRISS) and Urban Poor Affairs Office (UPAO) barely one day after the Holy Week, April 18. Tensions have run high after a violent confrontation between evicted families and demolition crews. Hundreds of demolition crews boarded on 10 waste collection trucks, escorted by about 50 armed policemen, implemented the demolition activity.

A concerned resident sought the help of Urban Poor Associates (UPA), a non-government organization that helps poor families facing evictions, to immediately intervene over the crisis following the violent confrontation. “The on-going demolition which will last until tomorrow might leave many families, including children and elderly, homeless,” the UPA said.

About 170 families in New Era were evicted. Many felt harassed and violated since there is no prior consultations regarding the process of demolition and the relocation. Some of the residents complained about demolition crews stealing their belongings. They said a policeman fired a warning shot after a resident, enraged over the looting, punched a policeman who had authorized the demolition of his property without the owner’s consent.

The demolition crews, without proper identification cards, started demolishing the houses even at the expense of other people’s housing rights. “Nakikiusap po kami na maghintay lang dahil naghahakot pa po kami ng gamit. Nahulugan nila ako ng matigas na bagay at nasugat ang aking ulo,” said Mrs. Linda V. Matute.

Many have decided to defy the order that they transfer to Towerville in Bulacan after those who tried to do so suffered from its poor condition and lack of livelihood opportunities in the relocation site. Instead, they accepted a P5,000 financial assistance from UPAO and signed a waiver. “Tinanggihan namin ito dahil hindi ito ang inaasahan namin. Nandito lang kami sa kalye, wala kaming pupuntahan higit sa lahat wala na kaming hanapbuhay,” said Jessica Mislan, one of the affected residents.

Meanwhile another 180 families from Culiat were also evicted. They received a demolition notice last February 2 from COPRISS signed by Marlowe Y. Jacutin, head of COPRISS. However, another demolition notice was issued again last April 11, this time with a different signature of Jacutin.

The demolition notice states that the residents violated PD 1096, PD 296, Dept. Order No. 4 Series of 87, City Ordinance No. 2229, 8633, Gen. Order No. 43, City Ordinance No. MC-180, Rep. Act 7279 and MMDA Resolution No. 02-28 Series of 2002.

Some affected families received P5,000 financial assistance from UPAO but there will be no relocation for them.

Other families did not receive financial assistance so they decided to stay amid the ruins of their houses. “Kaya po kami tumira sa tabing kalsada wala talaga kaming matirahan dito kasi kung mag upahan kami, walang pambayad kasi walang trabaho ang asawa ko. Nananawagan po kami na tulungan sana kaming umuwi sa Bohol,” said Elizabeth Bastatas, mother of seven. -30-

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