MANILA, Philippines, 09/18/2008 | 01:16 PM — Urban poor groups in Cavite province appealed to the government on Thursday to declare a moratorium on demolitions in view of the economic crisis.
They issued the appeal after two of their leaders were arrested Thursday morning as they tried to prevent a scheduled demolition at Barangay Bitong Dalig, in the town of Kawit.
Wilfredo Bonga, together with Raul Moring of Samahang Nagkakaisa ng Cavite (Sanagca) were arrested as police ordered the dispersal of some 600 residents who marched and formed a barricade around the target area of demolition.
In a statement, Romy Cabugnason, chairman of the Partido ng Manggagawa chapter in Cavite, said police used a water cannon to break the protesters who tried to secure their place against the advancing demolition crew.
“When the crowd resisted using their bodies as shields, policemen accosted and dragged the two leaders and brought them to the nearby Kawit municipal hall. The protesters proceeded to the municipal hall and vowed not to leave the place until their leaders are freed," said Cabugnason.
The protesters are said they were only asking for a moratorium on demolitions while relocation sites are not yet available for families that will be displaced. After dispersing the protesters, the demolition crew proceeded with the demolition, tearing down at least 50 shanties in just an hour, said the statement.
The Alyansa ng Maralitang Pilipino said the government should declare a moratorium on demolitions especially during these times of acute economic crisis which makes life even harsher for the poor.
Tonette Fajanilan of Sanagca chair cried foul on the government’s use of force during the demolition and vowed to pursue their cause not only in the streets but also in courts.
She said that even in cases where valid court orders are issued by the court, demolition cannot be implemented until relocation sites for affected families are already secured. The intent of this ruling is to avoid an abrupt dislocation of urban poor people.
“Kahit kami mahirap, may karapatan pa rin naman kami sa makataong pagtrato. Kung ang mga rebelde ay kinakausap ng gubyerno, bakit kami ay hindi gayung ang tanging kasalanan lang naman namin ay ang maging mahirap (Even if we are so poor, we also have the right to be treated humanely. If the government talks with rebels, why don’t our officials also talk to us when our only fault is to be poor," said Fajanilan.
“Ang kailangan namin ngayon ay tulong, hindi pwersa at dahas (what we need now is help, not force or violence," Fajanilan said.
Threats of demolition is haunting Cavite residents along the coastal lines of Bacoor, Kawit, Noveleta and Cavite City because of the R-1 expressway extension project and the conversion of the Sangley Point into a major port and logistics hub. - GMANews.TV