Monday, April 26, 2010

Urban Poor Call for Justice and Demand Adequate Relocation

Press Release
April 27, 2010

Over one thousand urban poor people marched from Quezon City Hall to National Housing Authority (NHA) today, April 27, 2010, to demand for adequate relocation of the 312 families, who were forcefully evicted from Road 10 Navotas and to criticize police brutality against the poor, in particular the midnight dispersal of the campers in front of NHA last April 13, 2010. With them were members of Task Force Anti-Eviction (TFAE) including the Community Organization of the Philippine Enterprise Foundation (COPE), Community Organizers Multiversity (COM), and Urban Poor Associates (UPA).

Led by the Road 10 evicted families, the group carried a 20 feet tall cross which symbolizes the sufferings and oppression of the urban poor and the eventual triumph of the sector, like Christ who suffered and victoriously redeemed the sins of the world on the cross. The group said, through eviction and dispersal suffering, they are creating a world of justice and peace for all. Also, they re-enacted the violent eviction and dispersal of the Road 10 residents of Navotas.

This protest with a theme “Justice for Road 10 Navotas, Justice for all Urban Poor” marked solidarity among the urban poor sector. “Many urban poor from different parts of Metro Manila including urban poor communities in Rizal joined us today because they knew what happened to us, how our women in the barricades were brutally hit by the police and water cannoned during demolition,” said Prescilda Juanich, President of Road 10 Navotas Samahang Pinagbuklod ng Pagkakaisa. “ We all see the great need of our presence to call for justice against the violation of our human rights and to condemn government housing agencies such as, NHA for its negligence of its duty to provide housing for the poor and its callousness to use violence to disperse our peaceful assembly at dawn last April 13.”

Road 10 Navotas is one of the 11 priority areas that President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo promised to relocate in Montalban during a dialogue with urban poor representatives last August 1, 2008. The president herself instructed government agencies to provide 300 million pesos for the housing of the 11 priority areas. Until now the evicted Road 10 residents do not have houses prepared for them.

Juanich said, “We exhausted all efforts to make sure that we will be provided with adequate relocation way back two years ago. Now, NHA should move to convene a high level Inter-Agency Committee meeting to address our problem. After all, it is their mandate and obligation to seek solutions to the problem of housing the poor.”

UPA monitored that the government housing backlog is about 2,610,404 and the new estimates of housing need for 2011 to 2016 is 5, 247, 381, an obligation left to fulfill by the successor of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

For his part, UPA Deputy Coordinator Teodoro AƱana said, “urban poor comprised 50% of our population and only few were given decent houses. Housing agencies need to be reformed by changing its leadership because for the past years they are proven incompetent and incapable of providing housing services to the poor and not only that, they also use violence against the urban poor.”

Task Force Anti-Eviction (TFAE) observed that the government violates the urban poor constitutional rights indiscriminately and with impunity. Despite cases filed against government agencies no one seems to be punished. Even the urban poor people’s right of free speech and peaceful assembly are being curtailed through violent dispersal just like what happened to the residents of Road 10 Navotas. TFAE and Road 10 residents will file a complaint against NHA at the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) to secure justice and they hope that this will be a test case against a government agency that violates the rights of the people.-30-

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