Wednesday, May 31, 2006

U.P. workers, teachers, students, urban poor united to stop evictions

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For Immediate Release on June 29, 2006

U.P. workers, teachers, students, urban poor united to stop evictions

Hundreds of people from several community organizations at the University of the Philippines (U.P.) in Diliman, Quezon City joined forces to form the Alyansa ng mga Mamamayan Laban sa Demolisyon sa U.P. (ALMADEM) on a protest rally held at the U.P. Campus this morning. About 500 people marched from Vinzons Hall to gather at the Oblation of the U.P. Administration Building in Quezon Hall. They condemn the on-going demolitions and evictions of informal settlers inside the U.P. Campus.
Present at the rally to express outrage on the U.P Administration’s policy in demolitions are leaders from Nagkakaisang Lakas ng mga Maralita (NALAMA), U.P. Campus Neighborhood Association (UPCNA), University Hotel Worker’s Union (UHWU), All U.P. Workers Union, All U.P. Academic Union, Anakbayan and University Student Council (USC).
The University is known for its activists that safeguard the rights of marginalized sector. However, in this case, the University is a housing right violator, according to the leaders. “Nasaan na ang mga ideolohiyang itinuro ng Unibersidad sa karapatang pantao? Tinatalikuran ng administrasyon ng U.P. ang kanyang responsibilidad sa mga apektadong pamilya ng kanilang proyektong nais gawin. Iba na ang posisyon ng U.P. sa usapin ng pagbibigay ng katarungan para sa mga maralita,” said Fred Ajero, spokesperson of NALAMA.
The community organizations believed that there is an urgent need to find workable alternatives to this most impoverishing practice. “Dapat nang itigil ng Administrasyon ng U.P. ang ginagawang pananakot at pagdedemolis. Dapat kilalanin ng Administrasyon ng Unibersidad ang R.A. 7279 (UDHA). Dapat magbaba ng TRO ang korte para sa mga naaapektuhan ng mga demolisyon. Dapat maglaan ng lupa para sa mga maralitang naninirahan dito.”
“The University of the Philippines (UP) is not exempt from complying with the requisites for eviction provided in Section 28 of Republic Act No. 7279, also known as the Urban Development and Housing Act of 1992 (UDHA). Hence UP is not exempt from complying with EO 152 since it provides a mechanism to ensure compliance with Section 28 of the UDHA,” according to the Urban Poor Associates (UPA), a non-government organization working with urban poor issues.

It is clear from the law that eviction and demolition involving the underprivileged and homeless citizens shall be in accordance with law and in a just and humane manner. Article XIII, Section 9 and 10 are two significant provisions in the 1987 Philippine Constitution that protect and promote the interest of the urban poor. UDHA was enacted to implement the two Constitutional provisions.

“While it is true that Section 5 (e) of UDHA provides that lands actually and primarily used for educational purposes are exempt from the coverage of UDHA, the owners/administrators are not exempt from observing the mandatory constitutional requirement. To interpret the law differently would be giving UP administrators a license to evict the poor families in a less than humane and just manner,” the UPA said.

Exemption under Article II, section 5 of UDHA is not absolute. This Section also states that exemption under this section shall not apply when the purpose of these lands has ceased to exist.

Evictions are increasing algebraically, causing a colossal displacement of people. Once demolished, evictees are forced to settle on other lands and may be subject to demolition once again, a hopeless cycle of homelessness. Such is the situation of hundreds of thousands of Filipino families in Metro Manila, according to UPA. -30-

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