Friday, May 26, 2006

Residents, NGOs to government: Are you killing the R10 Navotas children?

For Immediate Release on May 26, 2006

Residents, NGOs to government: Are you killing the R10 Navotas children?

Demolished residents along R10 Road, Sitio Sto. Niño, Puting Bato in Navotas has called on the government to address immediately the concerns of evicted families before another tragic death of a child happens.

Seven-month old Ariel Porras drowned in a canal after falling from their makeshift shanty at the dawn of Wednesday, May 24. His parents, Gina and Archie Porras, built a shanty along the sidewalk of R10 Road as they were not given relocation following the demolition of their house last Thursday, May 18. The wake of the child can be seen in the Navotas Freedom Park, beside the Navotas Municipal hall, where some 25 evicted families have also sought refuge.

Gina, the mother of the baby, blamed the demolition for the death of her child. “Bigla-bigla ang demolisyon. Padilim na nang giniba ang aming bahay. Halos hindi na kami makatulog mula noon dahil sa pag-aalala sa mangyayari. Wala kaming masilungan, una sa kalsada kami tapos nakapagtayo kami ng kubo-kubo, nangyari naman ito” she said.

Meanwhile, Caloocan Bishop Deogracias Iñiguez and NGOs such as Community Organization of the Philippine Enterprise (COPE) Foundation and Urban Poor Associates (UPA) ask the government to provide adequate relocation to the evicted families. “The government should look into the situation of the evicted families. It did not relocate the evicted families who are now living on the streets, exposed to the elements. These are gross violations of domestic laws such as the Urban Development and Housing Act as well as international treaties like the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which the Philippine government has ratified.”

Urban Poor Associates (UPA), a non-government organization dealing with issues directly affecting the lives of the poor, conducted research in demolitions. Its research showed that women and children, like the families recently evicted from R10 are always the most vulnerable during demolition. Hundreds lose their homes and their source of livelihood. This violates the international principle that no demolition should render anyone homeless, according to Teodoro Añana, coordinator of Eviction Watch of the Asian Coalition for Housing Rights (ACHR).

The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) demolished some 807 families in Sitio Sto Nino, Puting Bato in Navotas along R10 beginning May 18 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 police officers and SWAT personnel armed with high-powered rifles implemented the demolition activity with the use of bulldozer, mechanical backhoes and other heavy machinery.

Samahang Maralita Nagkakaisa ng R10 (SAMANA-R-10), the people’s organization, demands justice from the government. “Trinato nila kaming parang mga hayop! Sila mismo ang hindi sumusunod sa batas. Lahat na ng paglabag sa Republic Act 7279 o Urban Development and Housing Act (UDHA) ay ginawa nila,” said Elita Nalda, president of SAMANA.

According to SAMANA-R-10, DPWH used this so-called demolition/resettlement ploy by threatening people with forced evictions and at the same time offering them with 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. However, the implementing agency asks the affected families to sign waivers absolving government of its obligations to provide adequate relocation. “This is satanic in its ingenuity since blame is now on the poor people for ‘freely’ agreeing to something that is disadvantageous or bad for them.” -30-

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