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Philippines, Urban poor groups calls on Duterte to Punish ‘Demolition Warlords’

Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap kicked off their #ZeroEviction campaign with several protests. They joined other groups trooping to the House of Representatives against the Emergency Powers Bill, while residents of Apollo, Tandang Sora who have been homeless since June painted and confronted the blockade to their homes and relocatees in Montalban who have been occupying vacant housing units held a ‘banig protest.’

All of this was in response to the growing number of demolitions happening in the country and worldwide. The group said that more and more people are being pushed out of their homes and even the United Nations effort to release the New Urban Agenda will only foster more of the same.

Locally there have been around 4,209 families affected by demolitions in Metro Manila alone since the start of the Duterte presidency. Prior to that there had been around 23,000 nationwide in 2016. Evictions pushed by local governments, private claimants and huge corporations are still alive and well in the latter part of the year.

Kadamay called on the President’s immediate intervention on this matter as cases such as Quezon City, where Mayor Bautista has been tagged a demolition king. This has once again been exhibited by the clearing operations in brgy Culiat last Friday which has left 84 families homeless. Additionally, the group demanded that Mayor Bistek and other rampant violators of urban poor rights should be punished in accordance with his ‘no demolition without relocation’ pronouncement.

“Because of laws like the UDHA (Urban Development and Housing Act), many local governments are given license to mediate and implement widespread evictions nationwide. The supposed safeguards provided are rarely executed and urban poor Filipinos are routinely tricked with promises of financial assistance in relocation. The administration needs to put its statements on demolitions into concrete policies,” said Gloria ‘Ka Bea’ Arellano, KADAMAY Chairperson.

Arellano added that virtually every case of demolitions has violated the rights of the urban poor in more ways than one whilst complaining locals are quickly turned away by citing the validity of the UDHA. She said that both the cases of Apollo and Culiat represent two very recent and glaring examples the ‘warlordism’ of how there has been zero suitable relocation offered while the government turns a blind eye towards violently adding to the homeless.  “Programs like Mayor Bistek’s ‘Zero Informal Settlers’ will be met with Zero Eviction demonstrations” said Arellano.

The Habitat office has cited 44% of city populations are informal settlers and 90% of this comes from 3rd world countries like the Philippines.

“We express solidarity with other urban poor and anti-eviction movements rising up this month. Our call for Zero Evictions resonates with a vast majority of city dwelling people on this Earth. The Philippines has consistently set a bad example for the world in terms of urban development disputes. Violence, corruption and profit mar demolitions here like no other place in the world. Hence it is important for Filipinos to stand up for housing rights and services as genuine community development,” noted Arellano.

For her, community development meant implementing higher wages and regular jobs for poor Filipinos.

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