Monday, February 22, 2010

Parañaque urban poor march for justice to victims of demolitions and slain mediaman

Press Release
February 22, 2010
Alyansa ng Maralitang Pilipino

Chanting “Katarungan para sa mga biktima ng demolisyon sa Palasan! Katarungan para kay Albert Cordova Lumbang!,” some 500 Parañaque urban poor marched again to the city hall. Last February 11, the homes of 110 families in the depressed community of Palasan were demolished. Lumbang meanwhile was a mediaman who died while covering the violence-marred urban poor rally at the Parañaque city hall last Thursday, February 18.

The protesters assembled behind Jaka Plaza in Sucat Road, Parañaque around 7:30 a.m. today and then marched by 8:00 a.m. on to the city hall. “We ask that Mayor Jun Bernabe of Paranaque hold a dialogue with the urban poor regarding the demolitions in the city. We want financial assistance for the Palasan residents so they can be provided with decent relocation. Finally we demand a ban on demolitions for the duration of the election period,” explained Robert Labrador of the Alyansa ng Maralitang Pilipino AMP), a coalition of urban poor organizations in Metro Manila, Central Luzon and Southern Tagalog.

The rally today is a follow up to the rally last Thursday in which supporters of the incumbent mayor threw stones at the marchers and Lumbang died during the confusion. The rallyists insist that Lumbang was hit by a stone thrown from the Parañaque city hall while Mayor Bernabe has been quoted attributing his death to heat stroke. One of the rallyists brought Lumbang to the Parañaque Hospital. Beside Lumbang, several protesters were also hit by stones but only slightly hurt.

Renato Magtubo, chairperson of the labor party-list Partido ng Manggagawa (PM), expressed support for the protests against demolitions. “The moratorium on demolitions must be enforced not just for the duration of the election period but the length of the economic crisis. If the government cannot provide affordable and safe housing for the homeless then it has no right to deprive the poor not just of their homes but of their livelihoods by demolishing their communities,” he declared.

The urban poor protests were sparked by the demolition in Palasan which is right beside the Amvel subdivision of Mike Velarde. In the demolition, the possessions of those demolished were dumped in the nearby Palanyag Tramo cemetery and four people were temporarily detained but have already been released. “The demolition was illegal since there was no court order and hearings were still ongoing,” Labrador claimed.

Some 1,980 people live in the depressed community of Palasan. Some 13 families have already received P100,000 each in financial assistance and been relocated from the disputed land.

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