We are writing you to express our deep concern about the ongoing demolition and threat of demolition of the homes and properties of urban poor families living in the Laguna Lakeshore area of Taguig City.
On April 30 at 6:00-7:00 AM. The affected families of C6 Road, Barangay Napindan noticed that more than 300 joint forces of Philippine National Police, Public Order and Safety Office and demolition team were already in formation. The C6 Road was closed to vehicles. The team was headed by Mr. Agapito Cruz of the Urban Poor Affairs Office of the Taguig City Government. During this time, officers of Pinagsamang Maralita ng C6 Road Incorporation (PIMACRI), an organization of C6 Road urban poor residents were on their way to the city hall of Taguig anticipating for a meeting with Taguig City Mayor Lani Cayetano at 10:00 in the morning. However, the officers of PIMACRI were saddened that there was no meeting arranged at the office of the Mayor because their letter was not given priority by the said office. They went to the Urban Poor Affairs Office but still no one entertained them because the office was conducting a demolition in their community already.
9:00 AM. The demolition team demolished the house of Almaro Almeni, 60 year old man despite his illness. Almaro panicked. Mr. Jr Victorez, his neighbour and also an affected residents helped Almaro and begged to the policemen and demolition team to stop the demolition of Almaro’s house. But the policemen handcuffed Victorez and placed him in a government vehicle. The demolition completely destroyed the house of Almaro. Victorez was released after the demolition.
At 10:00 in the morning, the residents came back to their community and to their surprised, their homes were already destroyed. Nothing was left. Everything was smashed. The demolition team demolished their homes even if these were closed or padlocked and without the consent of the home owners.
Mrs. Oliva Lognasen, an officer of PIMACRI documented the incident through her camera. The police tried to confiscate her camera and to drag her in the vehicle. She was told to stop taking video and pictures or else the policemen will arrest her. She resisted and escape from the hands of the police.
The residents continued to negotiate with the Philippine National Police and POSO. The residents showed the DILG Memorandum stating the right of urban poor people to decent housing but the authorities turned a deaf ear. They asked the authorities not to confiscate their belongings and properties but the demolition personnel forced to load them in the truck. The residents collectively defended their remaining things and stopped the demolition team to confiscate them.
May 1-7, 2015. The clearing operation of already demolished homes was continued by POSO personnel. Morning of May 2, Mr. Rodrigo Domosmog – one of the affected families tried to stop the POSO personnel to confiscate his belongings and properties while his wife is in the hospital taking care ther relative. Instead, the POSO personnel hit Mr. Domospog in the head and arrested him. He was then released immediately.
There are more than 130 families affected by the demolition from seven (7) barangay of lakeshore Taguig Area; Barangay Napindan, Calsada, Hagonoy, Ibayo-Tipas, New Lower and Lower Bicutan.
From April 30-May 2, the homeless families sheltered themselves in the covered court of Barangay Calsada. They were given limited food packs and nine (9) pieces of matresses by local government representatives. After three days, they are not allowed to stay anymore in that place. They have no other option but to build makeshift tents in the adjacent vacant land until the government will take heed to their demands.
As of date of writing, the families have no food to eat and no water to drink. The POSO personnel are guarding them 24/7 and confiscating their remaining things.
The residents aired their concern about the security of their homes, the effects to their work and livelihood, education of their children and asked for consideration during a pre demolition conference on April 22 headed by the Presidential Urban Poor Commission. However, the government representatives said that they CANNOT OFFER ANY HELP to them and that the affected residents ARE NOT ENTITLED TO ANY GOVERNMENT HOUSING PROGRAM.
Laguna Lake is the largest lake in the Philippines with around six (6) million populations from Metro Manila, province of Laguna and Rizal. It is also the number one source of freshwater fish in the country. The affected families lived in the community for many years already and their source of income depends on the lake. The lakeshore residents are dependent to the bounty and forms of livelihood from the Laguna Lake. The affected families are planters of vegetables and fruits, fishermen, vendors, construction workers and other self created livelihoods. They live along C6 road for five years already. All of them are urban poor families with very low income and no permanent job of livelihood. This is the reason why they cannot afford to pay for monthly house rent and are forced to build their houses in the vacant public land in the lakeshore area.
We are afraid that the Laguna Lake Development project – biggest Public Private Partnership Project of the present Aquino administration worth P123 billion will pose great danger to the people and to the environment and gross violation of human rights of people living in the lakeshore area and the whole of Laguna Lake communities. We learned that giant businessmen are investing on these PPP projects headed by multi national corporations and big banks such as Asian Development Bank, Dutch Pension Fund and Macquarie with local counterparts – Henry Sy of SMDC, Ayala of Ayala Land, Manny Pangilinan of Metro Pacific Group at Ramon Ang of San Miguel Corporations.
We would like to remind the obligation of the Philippine Government to promote, protect and fulfill the human rights of the Filipino people. It is your obligation to refrain from, and protect against, forced eviction from homes. It is your obligation to ensure and not to violate the economic, social and cultural rights of the people such as right to adequate housing, right to work and livelihood, right to clean and safe environment, right to health, education and social services among others. It is your obligation to honor your commitment to international human rights laws and domestic laws especially the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Philippine Constitution.
Thus, we stressed our calls to the Philippine Government to:
- Stop the eviction and demolition of the homes and livelihood of people in Laguna Lakeshore communities.
- Ensure decent and adequate housing of the lakeshore residents instead of displacing the affected families from their homes and livelihood.
- Conduct genuine consultation with the affected residents so that their voices and demands shall be fully addressed.
- Provide concrete programs that will truly help and uplift the already dire condition of the urban poor families such as access to full employment, adequate livelihood, social services and respect of their human rights.
- Stop the implementation of Laguna Lake Reclamation and other projects destroying homes and livelihood of the people and the environment.
Specifically to the demolished families, we join the call to the Philippine Government to:
- Stop the continued demolition and clearding operations.
- Decent and adequate housing which is not far from their present livelihood and work, education of their children and social services.
- Adequate conpensation to all belongings and properties destroyed during the demolition.
- Enough financial and material assistance for the rehabilitation of their homes and for their immediate needs such as food, water, medicine, clothing among others.
- Access to judicial remedy to all victims of human rights violations.
- Genuine program that truly uplifts and will not worsen the already dire condition of the affected families such as security of their livelihood and work, housing and basic needs.
Please send this letter to the following addresses:
President Benigno S. Aquino III
Mayor Lani Cayetano, Taguig City
Fax Number: 6423588
Urbar Poor Affair’s Office: 5557855
Senator Alan Peter “Compañero” S. Cayetano (husband of the Mayor)
Senate Office: Rm. 603 GSIS Building
Financial Center, Roxas Boulevard
Trunk Lines: (632) 552-6601 to 70 loc. 5584
Telefax No.: (632) 832-5518
Senator Pia S. Cayetano
Senate Office: Rm. 505 & 18 GSIS Building
Financial Center, Roxas Boulevard
Trunk Lines: (632) 552-6601 to 70 loc. 5556 – 57 / 5565 / 5588
Direct Lines: (632) 552-6683 / (632) 552-9003
Telefax No.: (632) 552-6684
Chito M. Cruz
National Housing Authority General Manager
Vice President Jejomar Binay
Head, Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council
Email: email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org
Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council
National Anti Poverty Commission
Department of Justice
Jaime E. Varela
Philippine Commission of Urban Poor
Office of the Chairman
Telefax: (02) 410-46-91
Cell No.: 0916-2792068
Addr: 4th floor, DHC Building
1115 EDSA, Project 7
1105 Quezon City
Melona R. Daclan
Campaign Director, Defend Job Philippines
Defend Job Philippines is a member of International Network for Economic Social and Cultural Rights (ESCR Network)