Friday, June 13, 2014

Urban Poor NGO Appeal For Respect to Land Rights

Urban Poor Associates
25-A Mabuhay Street, Brgy. Central, Q.C.          Telefax: 4264118          Tel.: 4264119 / 4267615
Ref:  Princess Asuncion-Esponilla      Mobile phone: 0908 1967450

13 June 2014. Urban Poor Associates, (UPA) a housing rights advocate held a first forum on Urban Development and Housing Act (UDHA) or Republic Act 7279 to Yolanda survivors and International Organizations Friday 9 AM-12 Noon at the Grand Stand Session Hall, Sta. Cruz Street, Tacloban City. The forum is an appeal to respect land rights and to allow Yolanda survivors to have access to transitional housing in their existing places while in wait for the permanent housing. 

Atty. Ritche Esponilla, UPA Legal Counsel said, “The forum aims to provide understanding of UDHA / RA 7279 to ensure that the affected families will have an informed decision on their housing options.”

Celia Santos, UPA UDHA Advocacy Officer based in Tacloban said, “This is an effort to lessen the suffering of affected families living in tents by educating them on their land rights particularly on the right for an adequate consultation. Consultation does not happen in most disasters stricken areas based on Oxfam study.”

According to a recent Oxfam Briefing Paper on permanent relocation, 81 percent of the people interviewed “stated they are not aware of their rights regarding permanent relocation,” and only 7 percent of those interviewed said “they had been consulted by a government official at the barangay, municipal or national level about the relocation process.” (New and Old Wineskins by Denis Murphy, Philippine Daily Inquirer, May 29, 2014)

The forum supports:
1. Immediate implementation of the repair or rebuild on-site for transitional housing in affected areas.
2. Transitional housing for those who opted outside the affected areas.
3. Make public the correct land inventory per barangay so, that people can effectively participate in choosing housing and land options as mandated by the UDHA law or RA 7279.
4. Speed up the construction of permanent housing in safe areas with decent housing, basic services and available jobs.
5. In the meantime, put in place safe evacuation areas, identify evacuation areas per district if possible per Barangay, make a community drill on complete disaster preparedness program and to ensure that when disaster hit, there is an abundant food supplies for affected families. 
6. Respect everyone land rights.

Mary-Ann Guinoohan, a resident of Barangay 89, San Jose District, Tacloban said, “We are happy to be informed of our housing rights. This is the first time that someone explains to us that there is a law protecting poor people housing rights. We are hopeful that in the meantime, the government will give us transitional housing on the site especially that rainy season has started.”

The forum was supported by the Office of the Vice Governor, Commission on Human Rights, International Organization for Migration (IOM), United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and Community and Family Services International (CFSI).


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