Friday, October 19, 2007

Group slams MMDA for violating moratorium on demolition

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Group slams MMDA for violating moratorium on demolition

19 October 2007. An eviction watchdog has scored the continuing demolition drive by the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) despite a 1-month moratorium agreed upon at a recent hearing at the Senate Committee on Urban Planning, Housing and Resettlement.

The Urban Poor Associates (UPA), a housing rights non-government organization, said MMDA Chairman Bayani Fernando violated his promise to Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri and Senator Rodolfo Biazon to stop demolitions as it only render poor families homeless.

“The MMDA should change its name to Metro Manila Demolition Abuses. For this year alone, it has displaced thousands of poor families more than a major disaster can do,” said Ted Añana, deputy coordinator of UPA.

“Aside from doing unlawful demolitions, the MMDA has perfected its propaganda of lies against urban poor just to justify its inhumane actions. In fact, the MMDA wanted to get rid of all informal settlers but it has never relocated a single family contrary to its press statements,” Añana said. “Imagine this, without all this so-called eyesores, more than half of the population of Metro Manila will be homeless,” Añana added.

According to UPA, the impact of forced evictions is almost always severe for the victims. This can include physical and mental trauma, homelessness, loss of wealth and assets in the form of dwellings and personal goods, loss of livelihood or employment, declining standards of health and education, and the destruction of community bonds.

Some residents living along Estero Tripa de Gallina in Pasay City were hurt yesterday as the MMDA dismantled the homes of more than 100 informal settlers.

Diana dela Torre, a 36-year old widow and mother of 3, tried to stop the demolition team. “Mamaya na ho kayo magsira, magliligpit lang kami ng gamit,” she pleaded.

The MMDA, however, went ahead. “Di kami pinapansin. Di nagpa-awat. Pinasok sa ilalim, parang mga gagamba sumampa sa itaas, nagsisira na,” dela Torre explained. “Masama ang loob ko, nagwawala ako, pero di sila nakikinig. Bumagsak ang kahoy, umiwas ako, pero sumagi sa anak ko kaya nasugatan.”

Dela Torre who work as scavenger said she is cleaning the sidewalk so that they will have a place to sleep. “Kahit walang bubong, may mahigaan lang. Yung mga gamit namin tinakpan ng plastic para di maulanan.”

She said they were surprised by the MMDA since there is supposedly a 1-month moratorium on demolition. “Na-shock na lang kami, biglang lumusob ang isang batalyon. Sana ay bigyan naman kami ng masisilungan. Kawawa yung mga bata, wala naman kaming ibang mapupuntahan. Masasayang ang pag-aaral ng mga bata.”

Under international human rights law, the practice of forced evictions is considered a gross violation of human rights, in particular the right to adequate housing. -30-

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