UN Human Rights Committee examines violent demolition in the Philippines

The United Nations Human Rights Committee officially registered the case of Garsain et al. v. The Philippines. The case challenges the Government of the Republic of the Philippines for the brutal forced eviction of the residents of Corazon de Jesus, a community in San Juan City, Metro Manila.

On January 11, 2012, one hundred twenty one (121) residents of Corazon de Jesus, San Juan City, Metro Manila, Philippines suffered a brutal forced eviction and saw their homes demolished. Joint forces of the Philippine National Police, PNP Special Weapons and Tactics, and a demolition team bombarded the residents with water canons, used a bulldozer to enter the community, and fired guns and threw teargas toward the residents and community. Policemen were armed with M14 and M16 rifles and .45 caliber firearms.

Since access to justice was denied in The Philippines, the complaint is asking the UN Human Rights Committee to hold the Government accountable to its human rights obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

The Complaint was brought by the residents with the assistance of Defend Job Philippines, a human rights organization based in the Philippines; the Global Initiative for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, an international human rights NGO; and the International Human Rights Clinic at the New England University School of Law in the US.

According to Melona Repunte Daclan of Defend Job Philippines, “The Corazon de Jesus community has resorted to international human rights law to seek accountability for these egregious human rights violations because the courts in the Philippines have refused to enforce the human rights laws that are to protect the citizens of the Philippines.”

Bret Thiele, Co-Executive Director of the Global Initiative for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, added that “international scrutiny is necessary to bring to an end the impunity with which forced evictions are carried out in the Philippines, and we hope this case not only provides accountability and remedies to those bringing the claim, but puts an end to forced evictions in the Philippines altogether.”

Aside from the Corazon de Jesus residents, Glenda Leonor, mother of Arnel Leonor, a young man killed during a demolition in Silverio Compound, is also a complainant to the submission along with Mary Homo, wife of Antonio Homo who was killed in the midst of the struggle of their community in Navotas against forced eviction and home demolitions. Roy Velez and Amelita Bravante, trade union leaders and advocates of urban poor rights and currently facing fabricated criminal charges, are also complainants.

Daclan stressed that demolitions and forced evictions is a policy of the Government of the Republic of the Philippines, represented by the current administration of Benigno Aquino III, to give way to mega-development projects and other business projects. Indeed, Defend Job Philippines and Demolition Watch have documented more than 73,000 families who were forcibly evicted and had their homes demolished as of February 2014.

The UN Human Rights Committee is an impartial, independent human rights mechanism sitting in Geneva, Switzerland, and is mandated with ensuring compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The Philippines became a party to the Covenant in 1986 and three years later voluntarily accepted the Individual Complaint mechanism whereby victims of human rights violations can seek to hold States accountable to their human rights obligations and seek remedies when those obligations are violated.

“We are hopeful that through this international human rights mechanism, the Philippine Government shall be held accountable, demolition of communities be stopped and that the rights of the people be truly protected and promoted.” Daclan ended.

The complainants’ submission can be seen HERE.

Melona R. Daclan
Campaign Director, Defend Job Philippines
Mobile: +639267856299 and +639289069223
Website: www.defendjobphilippines.wordpress.com & www.demolitionwatch.wordpress.com

Defend Job Philippines is a member of International Network for Economic Social and Cultural Rights (ESCR Network)

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