Friday, November 3, 2006

NGOs condemns pre-ASEAN Summit demolitions, arrest and detention of protesters

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NGOs condemns pre-ASEAN Summit demolitions, arrest and detention of protesters

3 November 2006, Quezon City. Non-government organizations have asked various government agencies in a letter to stop all forced evictions, including those being planned, related to the holding of the ASEAN Summit in December in Cebu City, to pay compensation and provide adequate relocation to the evicted families, and to release, without bail, immediately the 12 people arrested and detained who protested the September 29, 2006 demolition.

“Such actions will most certainly show that the ASEAN, beginning with the organizers of its 12th Summit, are consistent in their avowals of creating a caring and sharing community, said Teodoro Añana, coordinator of the Eviction Watch of the Asian Coalition for Housing Rights (ACHR).

ACHR and the Urban Poor Associates (UPA) condemns the September 29, 2006 demolition of 30 shanties affecting 42 families in front of Shangri-la Mactan Island Resort and Spa in Mactan Island, Cebu, the arrest and detention of 12 people who protested against the demolition.

The demolition was carried out as part of the preparations for the 12th ASEAN Summit December 2006 in Cebu. The cleared land will be used as a parking lot for Summit participants.

The demolition operation was violent. Police used water cannons and truncheons to disperse the barricade put up by members of ASUPA (Atbang Shangrila Urban Poor Association) and students. Scores were hurt, including women and children. Thirteen were arrested with one released at once because he was a minor.

The twelve detained are the following: Almarie B. Marzado, 19; Emalyn M. Aliviado, 23; Lourd Sherry V. Perez, 23; Melba C. Ugbinada, 22; Jo Ann L. Martinez, 24; Rosita D. Blando, 54; Ronald A. Sitoy, 21; John Francis B. Aguilar, 19; Jordan M. Jainar, 19; Deogracias J. Cane, 23; Ashbel C. Edaño, 19; and Reyneil Jim V. Perez, 22. They are asked to post bail of P80,000 each (US$1,633) or a P960,000 (US$19,591), clearly beyond their means. Their detention is now more than a month.

Recently they have been charged with violation of the child abuse law Republic Act 7619 because they “induced” a minor, a 16-year old resident, to join in the barricade, a charge they deny. They are in jail with common criminals.

“Since the contested land is privately owned the land claimant should have gone to court to get a demolition order. Instead the local government opted to use presidential decree 1096 of former Dictator Marcos requiring government building permit for house construction which requires a land title to be issued. Obviously squatter families cannot obtain such a permit from city hall,” according to UPA.

Under Marcos, Minister for Public Works and Highways Jesus Hipolito instructed through a July 13, 1984 memorandum to government agencies not to use PD 1096 to demolish squatter houses.

Forced evictions in connection with international events such as summits and conferences violate the guidelines contained in General Comment No. 7, Forced Evictions (1997) issued by the United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. The committee is the treaty body of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights which the Philippine government has ratified. The September 29, 2006 forced evictions also violated the instruction of the United Nations Secretary General Kofi Anan which is contained in his Forced Evictions: Analytical Report (1993). -30-

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