Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Informal settlers file for TRO against U.P. Diliman

For Immediate Release on June 1, 2006

Informal settlers file for TRO against U.P. Diliman

Informal settlers within the University of the Philippines (U.P.) compound in Diliman, Quezon City have asked the Quezon City Regional Trial Court on May 29 for a temporary restraining order (TRO) against U.P. to forestall any further acts of eviction and demolition in the absence of an adequate relocation.

The case with prayer for TRO and Preliminary Injunction is set for raffle today, June 1, 2:00 PM, before the session hall of honorable Natividad G. Dizon, Executive Judge of QC Hall of Justice’s Branch 106.

Petitioner Fernando V. Bunuan and Rodolfo J. Rojas of Pook Dagohoy in U.P. Campus said respondents U.P., with Ida May J. La’O in her capacity as Vice Chancellor for Community Affairs, have threatened to demolish their homes without offering them relocation sites.

They argued that the demolition is in violation with the constitutional mandate enshrined in the Social Justice provisions of Article XIII, Section 10, 1987 Constitution. They said U.P. must also comply with the section 28 of the Urban Development and Housing Act of 1992 (UDHA), the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR).

Petitioners, with the help of Nagkakaisang Lakas ng Maralita (NALAMA), a people’s organization from 20 barangays within U. P. Campus, filed for a TRO after they were informed on April 26 by respondents U.P. that their houses will be demolished within 30 days to give way for the University’s campaign against dengue by clearing all legal impediments along canals and its 3-meter easement. According to the demolition notice signed by Ida May J. La’O, U.P. is exempted from the coverage of UDHA, citing the Supreme Court decision on Advincula vs. Court of Appeals, GR# 136378 (December 4, 2000). Hence, evicted families, according to the notice, will not receive financial assistance or relocation.

However, the claim of U.P. that they are not covered by R.A. 7279 is false and incorrect, according to the Urban Poor Associates (UPA), a non-government organization dealing with issues directly affecting the lives of the marginalized and underprivileged. “Hindi totoong naglabas ng desisyon ang Korte Suprema na nagsasabing ang U.P. ay exempted sa batas ng UDHA, sapagkat hindi nagkaroon ng pagkakataon na maisampa ang kaso sa takdang panahon ayon sa batas,” said Atty. Bienvenido A. Salinas 2nd, coordinator of UPA’s legal unit, St. Thomas More Law Center.

The Presidential Commission on the Urban Poor (PCUP) has rendered on November 19, 2003 an opinion to the effect that U.P. is not exempted from the coverage of R.A. 7279 (UDHA).

According to the Urban Poor Affairs Office (UPAO), there are currently about 25,000 informal settler families occupying 11% to 15% of the 493-hectare University. -30-

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