Saturday, April 18, 2009

Hounded by relentless protest, Parañaque LGU finally sits down with urban poor for a dialogue

Alyansa ng Maralitang Pilipino
April 16, 2009

The local government of Parañaque finally sits down with the leaders of the city’s restless urban poor after series of protests, including a violent one at Militon in Barangay San Antonio, flared up in the city one after another for over a month now.

Even the dialogue today coincided with another rally by some 700 urban poor residents from several barangays. Yesterday, another affiliate community in Las Piñas was also violently evicted. Urban poor leaders hope that the dialogue today will be able to formulate concrete plans and actions in addressing the housing problem in the city.

According to Nena Olbina, one of the leaders of the Alyansa ng Maralita sa Parañaque (AMP), the urban poor communities in Parañaque were restless over threats and actual demolitions happening in the city for almost a year now. The AMP is a coalition of urban poor organizations in the city of Parañaque. Most of the city demolitions, Olbina said, are done through violent means while proper relocation is not being addressed.

In particular, the AMP is asking the City Council of Paranaque to pass an ordinance in accordance with the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) resolution.

The group is referring to CHR Resolution (1v) No. A2008-052 which recommends for “the imposition of a moratorium on evictions and demolitions of structures used for dwelling purposes and other measures to protect the right to housing.”

Olbina said, the CHR resolution should guide the LGUs not only on the proper handling of demolition cases but on the primacy of protecting the rights of the poor settlers especially during these times of economic crisis. The AMP disclosed that Pasay and Quezon City already have their own moratorium policy through their respective city ordinances.

AMP leaders said protest will continue and may erupt into bigger protest if negotiations bog down.

“The right of the countless poor to live a decent life is an important right the local government must uphold over the right of the few to property,” said Olbina, invoking that support to the poor in cases where owners of private properties gain an upper hand, remains a government duty and instead of the poor being left on their own.

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