Friday, May 12, 2006

Residents, NGOs condemn DPWH and MMDA on unlawful demolition along R10 Navotas

For Immediate Release on May 20, 2006

Residents, NGOs condemn DPWH and MMDA on unlawful demolition along R10 Navotas

Some 807 families residing along R10 Road in Sitio Sto. NiƱo, Puting Bato in Navotas were forcibly evicted by the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) beginning Thursday to give way for a 32.5-meter road widening project from Maralla Bridge to C-4. Hundreds of demolition crews from the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA), escorted by policemen and SWAT armed with high powered rifles, implemented the demolition activity using a bulldozer, 2 back hoes and other heavy machinery. When some residents resisted, policemen fired warning shots while others pointed their guns at the people.

Samahang Maralitang Nagkakaisa R10 (SAMANA), the people’s organization, issued statements to condemn the demolition and the government's insensitivity to the needs of evicted families. “Walang malinaw na relokasyon. Hindi nasunod ang Republic Act 7279 or the Urban Development and Housing Act (UDHA). Walang financial at food support. Walang suporta mula sa Local Government Units (LGUs). May mga human rights violations,” the SAMANA said.

Only 561 of the 807 families will be entitled to relocation because the rest failed to be included on the 2001 Census made by DPWH, the SAMANA said. Hence, many evicted families have been living on the shabby sidewalks of Radial R10 Road following the demolition of their houses. “Sana ay mabigyan din kami ng malilipatang bahay malapit sa trabaho at iskwelahan,” said 35 year old Perla Filipinas, mother of five.

According to SAMANA, DPWH used the tactic of threatening people with forced evictions while at the same time offering them small amounts of money, or threatening them with forced evictions while offering to resettle them in sites that are very inadequate and far from areas where they could get jobs like Bitungol in Norzagaray, Bulacan. But the implementing agency asks the affected families to sign waivers absolving government of its obligations to provide adequate relocation.

Meanwhile, non-government organizations (NGOs) such as Community Organization of the Philippine Enterprise (COPE) and Zone 1 Tondo Organization (ZOTO) condemned this tactic of the DPWH which will place the blame on the poor people for "freely" agreeing to something that is disadvantageous or bad for them while at the same sowing enmity among the people between those who “volunteered” and those who refused to waive their human rights.

Caloocan Bishop Degracias Iniguez visited the demolition site and telephoned MMDA Chairman Bayani Fernandez to ask him to stop the demolition but was refused his request. Last Monday a dialogue was held at the parish of Fr. Alan Lopez in Dagat-dagatan and the DPWH agreed to suspend the demolition for three days until Friday. However, on Thursday afternoon the MMDA began the demolition operation.

A year ago the affected residents had meetings with the DPWH during which they rejected its financial offer of P15,000 for each family. They said they preferred relocation to a site in Bagong Silang in Caloocan. The DPWH offered Bitungol in Norzagaray, Bulacan which the people said is too far and without work opportunities. Moreover, the P15,000 offer of the DPWH is also below the UDHA standard of sixty days worth of daily minimum wage amounting to P18,000.

As defined by domestic laws, international treaties and covenants, adequate relocation means decent and habitable houses provided with basic services such as water, electricity, roads, continuity of education for the children. -30-

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