Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Urban poor hit Mayor Atienza for illegal demolition

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Urban poor hit Mayor Atienza for illegal demolition

23 January 2007, Manila. “Mabuti pa ang basura may paglalagyan, kami wala.”

Angry urban poor residents branded as illegal the demolitions being conducted by the City Engineering Office of Manila on their settlements under Quezon Bridge in Quiapo a week after the celebration of the 400th anniversary of the Black Nazarene.

With armed police escorts, the demolitions took place catching the residents by surprise since there were no demolition notices. People say they felt betrayed because most of the residents supported Mayor Lito Atienza during the past elections.

The city government has been doing it for several days beginning last week as part of its Quinta Market renovation project. They want to transfer the market vendors under the bridge as well as demolish the houses of the residents, according to Urban Poor Associates (UPA), a non-government organization working with urban poor issues.

“About 100 families were forced to live in the streets because demolished residents do not have temporary shelter. Many children have stopped schooling and are exposed to vehicular accidents,” said Teodoro AƱana, UPA deputy coordinator.

Five-year old John Joshua Pangan, one of the demolished residents, was still at the Popular Memorial Chapel in Rizal Avenue, Sta. Cruz as of today because his family cannot afford the funeral expenses worth 20,000 Pesos. Pangan was a victim of hit and run in Palanca Street last Saturday and was declared dead upon arrival at the Philippine General Hospital. The jeepney driver who tried to escape from the vehicular accident was caught and detained in Traffic Bureau, Pier Area.

“Patay na yung nanay ni John Joshua at yung tatay naman ay walang pambayad dahil nagsa-sidecar lang. Isa pa, walang pagbuburulan dito dahil may demolisyon. Halos lahat nga dito ay pakalat-kalat, walang mahigaan kaya sa bangketa na lang natutulog,” said 57-year old Mercedes Ruiz, a resident under the bridge since birth.

Ruiz pleaded that the homes of remaining 200 families be spared from the on-going demolitions until a relocation site is given. She also worries about displacement from their livelihood.

Last November 22, the local government of Manila demolished the houses of some 50 families in the same community. City hall did not secure a certificate of compliance from the Presidential Commission for the Urban Poor (PCUP) prior to the demolition as required by Executive Order 152 of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, according to Onesimo Foundation, a non-government organization helping streetchildren.

“The Urban Settlements Office did not conduct consultations, neither did it provide relocation to the affected families as required by section 28 of the Urban Development and Housing Act (UDHA), said Daniel Wartenweiler, coordinator of Onesimo Bulilit. -30-

For interviews with Urban Poor Associates (UPA) or additional information please contact UPA’s Media Advocacy Officer, John Lagman on (632) 4264118

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