Monday, May 7, 2007

UP residents stage protest action against demolition


UP residents stage protest action against demolition
8 May 2007. Residents of villages inside the University of the Philippines (UP) in Diliman, Quezon City held a protest rally this morning to oppose the UP administration’s move to rid the campus of informal settlers.
The Nagkakaisang Lakas ng mga Maralita (NALAMA), a peoples organization from 20 barangays within the University, led the protest action at the Oblation in front of the UP Administration Building.
Residents were protesting the impending demolition that they said would eventually dislocate 25,000 urban poor families. Some residents said they have been in the area since 1970s.
Houses of at least 9 families in C.P. Garcia are set to be demolished this month tagging it as a tactic of UP at removing all informal settlers in the campus.
According to Urban Poor Associates (UPA), beginning in 2001 the people had negotiated with UP and Quezon City Mayor Feliciano Belmonte Jr., and had arrived at a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) that needed only the concurrence of UP’s Board of Regents.
“It seemed a win-win solution for all parties: the people would get land tenure security and eventual upgrading; the university would get easy access to all the land needed for education purposes and the people’s assistance in limiting the entry of additional poor families; the city would get 25,000 families settled at very little cost. Land security would be long-term leases. The mayor would supply infrastructure – light, roads, drainage etc.,” the UPA said in a statement.
But before the Regents could vote, a change was made in the university’s administration. The new administration issued a series of policy papers that outlined a 180% turn in their mode of relationships with the urban poor, whom they described as enemies of UP.
The papers said the university would no longer negotiate with the poor and would hire more guards and evict rather than negotiate a solution to urban poor problems. The university’s new officials refused to meet with the poor for meaningful discussions.
What the administration proposes are: that demolitions be accepted, if not supported, by the academic community as a politically correct option; that UP will rule out relocation, on site development and other negotiating stances that alienate land and violate the UP Charter.
The UP administration has invoked its exemption from the coverage of the Urban Development and Housing Act (UDHA) which requires government to relocate families it evicts.
The House of Representatives legal office led by ParaƱaque City Congressman Eduardo Zialcita has said UP is not exempt. “While it may be true that UP lands are exempt from the operation of UDHA (RA 7279) with respect to the eviction of informal settlers, the university is not however exempt from the constitutional requirements of prior consultation with those who will be affected by the demolition and consequent resettlement and the just and humane manner of effecting the same under Section 10, Art. XIII of our fundamental law.” -30-

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