MANILA - Groups such as Anakpawis party-list group and Kadamay held a picket in front of the Batasang Pambansa Complex to call on Congress to stop the institutionalized practice of demolition of urban poor dwellings.
In a statement, Anakpawis assailed the "long and bloody record of past administrations of flushing out so-called informal settlers from their communities to make way for big-ticket business or infrastructure projects usually under the pretext of development, city decongestion or even public safety."
The group said that in the last month of the Aquino administration, at least 250 urban poor families were evicted, particularly in Culiat and Tandang Sora in Quezon City.
"While we welcomed the SONA [State of the Nation Address] pronouncement on the issue of demolition, we have yet to hear from the concerned agencies a detailed plan of action on how to concretely put into effect the so-called no-demolition-without-relocation mantra, without which thousands upon thousands of urban poor will remain in constant threat of demolition and forced eviction especially coming from the aggressive local and foreign proponents of Public-Private Partnership (PPP) projects," said Anakpawis Rep. Ariel Casilao.
Casilao is the principal author of a House Resolution urging the government to immediately impose a nationwide moratorium on demolitions pending provisions for livelihood, adequate housing, and social services.
According to the resolution, among the PPP projects that directly cause the displacement of the poor is the on-going construction of segment 10.1 of the Manila North Expressway or the North Luzon Expressway Harbor Link, the National Government Center, and the Quezon City Central Business District project.
Casilao is also the author of a bill in Congress seeking to repeal the Urban Development and Housing Act of 1992, which he said has served as one of the main legal justifications for demolitions, following the framework that housing is more a business concern rather than a basic social service.
Anakpawis also cited the absence of basic social services and the lack of employment opportunities in resettlement areas and tenement houses.
Casilao added that because of the absence of genuine agrarian reform and national industrialization programs, people in the countryside are forced to migrate to the cities.