Sunday, April 19, 2009

Moratorium on evictions asked as violent demolitions rise

Press Release
April 19, 2009

The Partido ng Manggagawa (PM) and the Alyansa ng Maralitang Pilipino (AMP) demanded a moratorium on evictions of the urban poor in the face of a rash of violent demolitions in the last two weeks in Metro Manila and Cebu. “We ask that Malacanang declare a moratorium on demolitions and a ban on violent evictions. The least that government can do in the midst of the economic crisis is to refrain from destroying the houses and livelihoods of the poor,” stated Renato Magtubo, chairperson of PM.

The call for a moratorium came in the wake of a series of violent demolitions in Metro Manila and Cebu. Last Wednesday, seven people were hurt and three arrested as residents resisted the demolition of a depressed community in Veraville Subdivision in Barangay Pulang Lupa 2 in Las Pinas. The day before, residents of Lower Tayong, Barangay Talamban in Cebu claimed they were harassed by members of the police Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) who backed up the demolition team.

Last April 3 two urban poor leaders were arrested in separate incidents. One was arrested during the violent demolition at Militon in Barangay San Antonio, Paranaque in which bulldozers were used as residents fought the eviction. The other was arrested as 16 families in Hinahon, Barangka Drive, Mandaluyong occupied vacant housing units that were allotted to them as legitimate beneficiaries but were denied them by a syndicate.

“The Urban Housing and Development Act (UDHA) provide that no demolition can proceed without relocation provided the urban poor. Honest to goodness negotiations with the community must be conducted for decent relocation. Residents are resisting and fighting evictions because they are being relocated to death zones where there are no livelihood and services,” explained Jess Panis, spokesperson of AMP.

PM and AMP announced that the urban poor will join industrial workers in commemorating Labor Day. Panis said that the urban poor is pushing for a 5-point demand in regards to the government’s so-called “stimulus plan.”

The 5-point demands are: (1) Moratorium on demolitions and ban on violent evictions. LGU’s should pass ordinances to implement the Commission on Human Rights Resolution (1v) No. A2008-052 recommending a moratorium; (2) Condonation of penalties and interests on low-cost and socialized housing loans. Draft a pro-poor implementing rules and regulations (IRR) for Republic Act 9507 or Socialized and Low-Cost Housing Loan Restructuring Act of 2008; (3) Jobs for the 3 million unemployed. Reform and expand the public employment program; (4) Allot 20% of the land in housing projects for socialized housing as provided for in the UDHA. Thus on-site relocation will be possible and the urban poor need not be relocated to undeveloped areas without services and jobs; and (5) Shift the bulk of the P330 billion fund for the stimulus plan to direct support and social services to the poor instead of infrastructure projects which benefits principally contractors and business.

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