Monday, September 12, 2011

UPA Study Says Evictions Lessen

News Release September 12, 2011 In the first eight months of 2011 the number of urban poor families who experienced eviction lessened somewhat, according to a study of Urban Poor Associates’ (UPA). From January to August 2010, 8201 families were evicted in 29 demolition incidents. In the same period for this year, 7060 families in 14 demolition incidents lost their homes. Eight of this year’s evictions were on government lands, three were privately owned while the others were on lots along esteros. All 14 of the 2011 eviction incidents were considered illegal because they did not meet the legal requirements for evictions of the Urban Development and Housing Act. Evictions in San Juan, Navotas, Makati and Pasig turned violent. The number of cases in 2011 went down to 14, compared to 29 demolition incidents in 2010, but larger urban poor areas were demolished. UPA pointed out that if we compared President Noy-Noy Aquino’s first complete year in office, June 2010- June 2011, we find he had many more evictions than former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo had on average per year in her term. These eviction episodes are considered high because President Aquino signed a covenant with the urban poor during the election campaign at Del Pan Sports Complex, Tondo, Manila, March 6. The Covenant promised an end to illegal forced evictions and showed a bias for in-city relocation. Such in city-relocations have not been implemented yet. Instead demolitions have been increasing. The government’s reasons for demolitions were the cleaning of esteros and expansion of government facilities. Fire From January to May 2011, a total of 12 fires broke out in urban poor areas which affected 9,849 families. Three out of twelve fires were believed by the people to have been done intentionally to force them out of places where they have lived for more than 15 years. They thought the government used fire because it is the easiest way to remove people. The majority of families who lost their homes were not allowed to return. Most of the fire sites were privately owned. Five of the communities were on government land. A total of 6,114 families or 62 percent of the total number of affected families were not allowed to return to their homes while communities in Satima, Las pinas, Brgy. Culiat, Quezon City and Malabon City are now negotiating with the private owners to purchase the land they lived on before the fires through the Community Mortgage Program (CMP). Navotas, Quezon City and Makati declared fire areas as danger zones. This prevents the people from going back to the fire site. Navotas passed a Resolution No.2011-36 on March 4, 2011 that the area in that city is a danger zone. Quezon City declared an area a danger zone because of “congestion and condition of structures.” The Makati government can pronounce an area a danger zone if the area has a minimum of five fires blaze. The areas were cleared of all residents. These moves of the City governments were strongly opposed by the fire victims. In Laperal Compound, Makati, the clearing operation turned violent. Molotov bombs and rocks were thrown by residents at Task Force Laperal. Makati was criticized by residents for enforcing a demolition though the lot is privately owned and there had been no court order. A child died in the staging area because of pneumonia. Only 25% of the 2700 families who lost their homes were relocated to Montalban. Families in Navotas and Quezon City also resisted clearing operations. Most of them chose to stay in their original places than be relocated far from their jobs. Government Intervention Secretary of Interior and Local Government Jesse Robredo put holds on demolitions in San Juan and Makati, which were not respected. UPA Spiritual Director Fr. Robert Reyes said, “The president should do more to stop illegal evictions or else eviction will continue to rise.” Data gathered by UPA shows that there are 300,000 families still threatened with eviction in Metro Manila and the surrounding area. “The government must find win-win solutions that will uphold the interest and rights of the poor and allow the necessary infrastructure of the city to be built,” Fr. Reyes concluded. -30-

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