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Urban Poor High Hopes with the New MMDA Chair
10 December 2009. Task Force Anti-Eviction composed of various people’s organizations and NGOs such as Urban Poor Associates (UPA), Community Organizers Multiversity (COM), and Community Organization of the Philippine Enterprise (COPE) Foundation has high hope with the new chair of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA), Secretary Oscar Inocentes.
Denis Murhpy, Executive Director of UPA said, “We are all happy that the new chair is committed to doing everything legally and through dialogues. Over the last three years, Bayani Fernando evicted thousands of families illegally that is without proper notice, consultation and resettlement. And often removed small vendors from the road or sidewalks and confiscated or destroyed their goods. If the new chair dialogues in a sincere way he will find solutions that allow the poor to survive in the city and make a living.”
UPA research team noted, that this year alone there were 28 evictions, 6 of these evictions were conducted by MMDA and ended up violent.
Last November 11, 2009, before the new chair took over, MMDA demolished shanties in Estero De La Reina. The eviction turned out badly. Women and even pregnant women were fighting the demolition team over pieces of lumber and G.I roofing. Finally 10 families left Binondo in an MMDA truck at about 4 pm with a cross section of poor people and children. They arrived at the resettlement area in Norzagaray, Bulacan at 8 p.m. because of heavy traffic. But the local barangay captain told them they couldn’t enter because they only have a trip pass which was given by the MMDA personnel. So, the people have no choice but to come back to Binondo at 11 p.m. only to sleep on the sidewalk because their houses were already destroyed.
This action of MMDA earn the ire of the urban poor and has been singled out by civil society monitoring groups as the biggest violator of housing laws. Even though no law or executive order exempts MMDA from observing just and humane demolitions and evictions as provided by UDHA, the agency has repeatedly violated the law. Families living in shanties demolished by MMDA in 2008 for its beautification and urban renewal programs were not given adequate relocation, not even temporary shelters.
In parting, Murphy said, "In cities as crowded as Calcutta, India, the government and the food vendors were able to reach an agreement about selling and eating hot food at lunchtime on the sidewalks. Everyday four million people have a hot lunch in the sidewalks of Calcutta. There is soon for the vendors on our sidewalks if MMDA will sincerely try to reach a solution with them. The new chairperson's clearing moratorium for vendors on the sidewalks and informal settlers this December is hopeful."
Task Force Anti Eviction will continue to monitor MMDA’s program to ensure that there will be no more violent and illegal evictions. The group will cleave on the word of Sec. Inocentes that he will do everything “legally” and through dialogues.