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Solon calls on Noy to impose moratorium on informal settlers’ demolition

08/13/2011 [ ]

Sen. Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr. yesterday called on Malacañang to consider issuing an Executive Order imposing a moratorium on the demolition of informal settlers, to include even those in areas which have not been declared as under a state of calamity.

Revilla’s appeal was in the wake of the series of typhoons, storms and heavy flooding incidents practically experienced nationwide recently.

It would be a humane move for the national government if it suspends all demolitions considering the dilemma of informal settlers during rainy season, he said.

The chairman of the Senate committee on public works expressed concern over reports made by urban poor group Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap (Kadamay) that more than half a million families in Metro Manila are facing eviction and violent demolitions have resulted to the homelessness of some 35,000 residents, women and children included.

“Being evicted by force and watching while your house is being torn down is already indignation to anyone, and it is more aggravating if it is being done with the heavy downpour as backdrop. Families with nowhere to go to most likely will not allow that,” he said.

He stressed that under Section 28 of Republic Act (RA) 7279 or the Urban Development and Housing Act of 1992, eviction or demolition involving underprivileged and homeless citizens must be only carried out during good weather, unless there is consent from the affected families.

Revilla also reminded the government on its guaranteed protection of women and children from violence and threats as mandated by RA 9262 or the Violence Against Women and Children Act.

“The sight of their home being wrecked and having no definite shelter during bad weather would certainly place a mother or a child in fear of imminent physical harm. This is aside from the risk of getting sick from colds, fever and water-borne disease such as dengue, diarrhea, cholera and leptospiross,” Revilla said.

The lawmaker further pointed out that implementing eviction and demolition orders need not only the directive of the court but also a substantial number of demolition crew and security forces that could be used to help families hardly hit by typhoons.

“In times of calamity, we need more manpower for search and rescue missions, evacuations, and relief operations. Setting aside the eviction of informal settlers to assist our calamity-stricken country would be a noble effort and a right decision to our government.”

Revilla also vowed to push for other measures to alleviate the plight of millions of informal settlers.

“With due respect to our Judiciary and to the Executive branch, particularly our sheriffs, I believe that there may still be some loopholes in our law or procedures. We will look into it to ensure the smooth and peaceful eviction of informal settlers. But right now, delay all evictions and demolitions. If their lives are in danger because their houses are susceptible to flashflood or landslide, evacuate them, don’t evict them,” he added. Angie M. Rosales

Based on the 2010 study of the government-run research agency Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS), the Philippines was among Asian countries with large number of slum dwellers.

From the year 2000 to 2006, slum population is rising at an annual rate of over 3.5% compared to urban population growth rate of 2.3%.

In Metro Manila alone, an estimated 37% of population or over 4.0 million people live in slums in 2010. By 2050, the slum population in Metro Manila is estimated to reach nine million. Angie M. Rosales

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