April 29, 2010
Thousands of urban poor voters were elated when the Commission on Elections declared that it supports the need to ban all evictions during election period. They said this is in the interest of ensuring all citizens are able to vote. Evictions can lead to the disenfranchisement of voters.
Evicted poor people lose their residence rights because they are moved far from their original residence.
Jennyln David, residing in Manggahan Floodway Pasig City and affected by E.O 854 of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo said, “I am one of the signatories in our petition-letter appealing to the Comelec to halt evictions and demolitions during the election period and we are very happy that the Comelec law department heeded our call. This gives us the courage to face demolition teams without fear in the days before election.”
“We hope the Pasig local government will listen to the Comelec because the agencies are pushing us to vacate our community despite the danger that we will be disenfranchised,” she added.
Task Force Anti-Eviction (TFAE) 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), said that it is clear in the laws cited by the Comelec legal department that demolitions and evictions threaten the exercise of the right of suffrage of urban poor voters and with Comelec’s support we will ensure that not a single voter will be denied this right.
UPA is happy with the response of the Comelec legal Department but hopes that the Commission En Banc will rule on the matter and order suspension of demolitions and evictions during the election period. The residents at Estero Dela Concordia who joined in submitting the petition letter were demolished by MMDA April 15, 2010 without a certificate of compliance from the Manila LGU.
UPA Legal Counsel Bienvenido Salinas said, “We always believed that we would not be mistaken in asking the Comelec to ban demolitions and distant relocation. It proves that the individual’s right to vote is supreme over any government project if it threatens one’s right to suffrage. It also shows that disenfranchisement is an issue that has the same importance as political candidates’ concerns or automation problems. Now, we urge all government agencies and units concerned to observe the sanctity of the election process and the pre-eminence of the citizens right to vote.
TFAE concluded that, “Urban poor voters given the chance to vote by the Comelec will exercise their right to vote to make the May 10 election meaningful for themselves and for their children. They will elect leaders that will truly serve the best interests of the country.”-30-