Thursday, October 11, 2007

Group welcomes moratorium on demolitions, evictions

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Group welcomes moratorium on demolitions, evictions


11 October 2007. Top government officials promised a one-month moratorium on demolitions to Metro Manila’s urban poor at a consultative meeting held at the Senate’s Padilla Room yesterday.

Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) Chairman Bayani Fernando acceded to the appeal of Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri and Senator Rodolfo Biazon to stop demolitions as the Metro Manila Inter-Agency Committee (MIMIAC) develops its operational procedures.

At least 100 urban poor leaders went to the Senate to seek help from Senator Zubiri, Chairperson of Senate Committee on Urban Planning, Housing and Resettlement.

Also present were officials from Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC), National Housing Authority (NHA), Presidential Commission for the Urban Poor (PCUP), Commission on Human Rights (CHR), and Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH).

During the meeting, Senator Zubiri criticized the demolition of houses of informal settlers in various parts of Metro Manila. “Merong existing laws at mandatory provisions and Urban Development and Housing Act (UDHA). Ang MMDA ay hindi sumusunod. Within one month time, habang ginagawa pa ang polisiya, magkaroon ng moratorium.”

Senator Biazon, former Chairman of the Committee, supported the move saying that Executive Order 152 should be implemented otherwise it should be junk. “Bakit pa nag-issue ang Presidente ng EO 152? Violators of EO 152 challenge the authority of the President,” he said.

Urban Poor Associates (UPA), one of the housing rights non-government organizations that accompanied the people, welcome the moratorium saying this is good news for the urban poor.

“Our demolition monitor shows that MMDA is the top violator of housing rights,” said Ted AƱana, deputy coordinator of UPA. “In fact, MMDA doesn’t secure Certificate of Compliance from PCUP prior to demolitions.”

He said thousands of poor families will be affected by on-going demolitions along Pasig River, Manggahan floodway, San Juan River, R-10 Navotas, Southrail, Del Pan, Commonwealth Avenue and along estero in Makati, Pasay, Quezon City and Manila.

UPA together with other NGOs such as Community Organization of the Philippine Enterprise (COPE) Foundation and Community Organizers Multiversity (COM) formed the Task Force Anti Illegal Demolition (TF-AID) to help people’s organizations affected by various government projects.

“Parang hindi pa rin tinatanggap ng MMDA ang batas. Pwede pa rin silang mag-summary evictions,” said Soti Sabarre, community organizer of COPE. “Aminado ang PCUP na wala silang magawa dahil takot kay Bayani.”

Sabarre said there should be plans, consultation and budget for relocation to maximize the one-month moratorium. “Gusto ng tao ang near-city relocation sa Montalban. Suporta lang ng gubyerno ang wala.” -30-

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