Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Taguig City railway dwellers fight against eviction

** NEWS RELEASE *** NEWS RELEASE *** NEWS RELEASE **
For Immediate Release on June 6, 2006

Taguig City railway dwellers fight against eviction

Railway dwellers along Skyway East Service Road, Tenement in Taguig City were threatened to be demolished by the FTI Satellite Office of the Camp Badminton in FTI Complex, Western Bicutan yesterday morning but the affected families refused to be demolish.

“Ito ay taliwas sa mga pahayag ng City government na walang isasagawang demolisyon kung walang sapat at makataong relokasyon,” said Rowena Gepanaga, a resident.

Gepanaga argued that the demolition of their houses will be unlawful since the FTI Satellite Office does not have certificate of compliance (COC) from the Presidential Commission on Urban Poor (PCUP) and that the property is owned by the Philippine National Railway (PNR) and not within the jurisdiction of the Public Order Safety Office.

“Sang-ayon sa huling pagpupulong na ginanap noong ika-11 ng Mayo 2006 at dinaluhan ng iba’t ibang people’s organization, hindi rin ito sang-ayon sa napagkasunduan sa kung saan nabanggit ng Vice Mayor na walang isasagawang paglilikas ang local na pamahalaan,” Gepanaga added.

The informal settlers were informed on April 20 that their houses will be demolished within 30 days for the creation of the FTI Transport Terminal along East Service Road. The demolition notice never mentioned relocation sites and instead threatened that the local government will enlist the help of the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) to undertake the demolition if the residents did not vacate or self-demolish.

Engineer Jose Varquez of the PNR Real Estate Department, speaking in behalf of PNR General Manager Jose Ma. Sarasola II, told the residents on a meeting May 17 at the HUDCC boardroom that only the National Housing Authority (NHA) and the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC) has been tasked as the over-all agency in charge in the demolition/relocation of settlers being affected by the Southrail project.

The Urban Poor Associates, a non-government organization working on urban poor issues, pressed on the PCUP, PNR, NHA, and HUDCC to look unto the problems of the railway dwellers. “The demolition being initiated by the FTI Satellite office is a gross maneuver to force the railway dwellers to accept instead a distant relocation site in Cabuyao, Laguna which is the focus of complaints for its state of unpreparedness.”

“Is the South Korean government which funds the Northrail-Southrail Linkage Project (NSLP) aware that the local government is intervening with the demolition of houses along the railways without relocation which is also a violation of the international law?” the UPA asked. -30-

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