Thursday, July 27, 2006
STATEMENT ON HOUSING RIGHTS ON THE
NORTH SOUTH RAIL LINKAGE PROJECT
PHILIPPINES, JULY 2006
COHRE is an independent, international human rights organisation that works to create conditions in which people of all nations can enjoy access to safe, affordable and secure housing. Together with local partners COHRE works closely with the United Nations, advocating that governments fulfill their international and national legal obligations to ensure adequate housing for all.
The right to adequate housing is enshrined in an extensive body of international law, including the Universal Declaration on Human Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR).
The Government of the Philippines has ratified the ICESCR. In addition, the right to adequate housing is protected both in the National Constitution and the Urban Development and Housing Act 1992.
COHRE has strong partnerships with civil society groups in the Philippines who are working at the grassroots level to advocate for the urban poor’s right to adequate housing.
Adequate housing entails seven core components: Security of Tenure, Availability of Services, Materials, Facilities and Infrastructure, Affordability, Habitability, Accessibility, Location and Cultural Adequacy.
COHRE is currently supporting advocacy work to uphold the housing rights of communities affected by the North South Rail Linkage Project. On a recent visit to partner agencies, communities facing eviction and three relocation sites (Towerville and Northville IV in Bulacan and Southville in Cabuyao, Laguna), the following has been observed:
People do not have access to electricity and potable water. This means that drinking water must be bought.
It is extremely difficult for families to earn a livelihood being located so far from Metro Manila. We were informed by one agency that up to 70% of relocatees go back to the city to live and work during the week, returning to their families only on weekends. A significant proportion of income is spent on transport.
In Southville, the adjacent dumpsite produces a foul smell and many health hazards. Some houses are within a few metres of the dump. The poor drainage and close proximity to the dump means that when flooding occurs, polluted water floods the houses. We were informed that 6 children have died of diarrhea this year.
Schools and health services are inadequate in each location visited. For example in Southville, part of the school is housed in a tent, there is no water for the two small toilets, children must pay for drinking water, and the teachers work 3 four hour shifts because both human and physical resources are not sufficient to serve the 2000+ children attending.
While conditions in slums along the railway are far from adequate, the people informed us that it was much easier for them to make a living in the city. It was clear to us that surviving with dignity in a place like Southville is very difficult.
COHRE therefore strongly urges that:
The Government gives priority to the provision of basic services including potable water and electricity in all relocation sites, and immediately closes the dumpsite in Southville, Cabuyao.
The Government continues to engage in dialogue with civil society groups to ensure that people’s aspirations are met, and human rights are upheld in the eviction and relocation process.
The Government commits to finding suitable alternatives, such as in-city relocation. COHRE welcomes the constructive and consultative approach taken by the Mayor of Taguig, for example, who has agreed, in cooperation with the National Housing Authority (NHA), to develop in-city relocation sites.
All further relocations be suspended until sites meet international and national housing rights standards.
The Government invites the UN Special Rapporteur on Adequate Housing to visit the Philippines to assess the situation and provide appropriate advice.
Annie Feith firstname.lastname@example.org
Lisa Giufre email@example.com
COHRE Asia-Pacific Programme
PO Box 1160, Collingwood 3066
Tel: +61 3 94177505