URGENT APPEALS

More families left homeless after violent demolition in San Juan

  UA–120418-01 Dear friends and partners, The Center for Trade Union and Human Rights is writing to you to seek support for the violently displaced residents of Corazon de Jesus, San Juan City Philippines last January 11. Twenty-three residents were injured and 24 others were illegally arrested in brutal demolition that affected 300 families.  Using absolute police force, the local government managed to demolish homes of the residents to give way to the construction of the new city hall. At present, the displaced families have stayed in an alley near the demolished community as they continue to refuse the assigned relocation site provided by the local government. The residents complain that the relocation site in Rodriguez Rizal is very far from their workplace and from public services like hospitals and schools. The right to decent housing that is accessible to livelihood and services is part of the economic, social and cultural rights of every individual. It is also integral to every person’s right to life with dignity. The Philippine Government ratified this UN Convention. Case Summary (from SAMANA and Karapatan NCR) On December 5, 2011, San Juan City Architect Romeo Gonzales released a Notice of Eviction giving 30 days for 121 families to leave their homes. The notice however was not distributed to 121 families that were on the list for eviction. Instead, the notice was just left at the Corazon de Jesus Baranggay Hall. On January 6, 2012, the City Hall posted another notice stating that the residents have only 3 days left to leave the community. The notice did not contain names nor specific places to be demolished.

from pinoyweekly.org

On January 7, a group of police headed by San Juan Police Chief Arcallana arrived in the baranggay and searched the booth of Sandigang Maralitang Nagkakaisa (SAMANA), an association formed by the residents of Corazon de Jesus. The police accused the residents of possessing guns and threatened the residents of launching a clearing operation. On January 10, some policemen blocked individuals who were entering the baranggay. They also threatened that supporters of SAMANA from different sectors and communities inside and outside of Corazon de Jesus will be arrested. An announcement was also made at the San Juan Municipal High School (a school close to the target demolition site) that there will be no classes the following day. Around 9-930pm, a checkpoint was put up on P. Narciso Street. Two trucks of demolition team were also sighted that night, one in Agora, and another in Arena.

from pinoyweekly.org

from pinoyweekly.org

The next day,  January 11, at around 7am, members of the demolition team were already sighted together with the police and the Magdiwang group on different areas surrounding the Corazon de Jesus. Before 8 am, members of the Department of Welfare and Social Development (DSWD) also arrived. At almost the same time, members of the San Juan police and the demolition team were already positioned in three areas: P. Narciso, Artiaga and Pacific. On P. Narciso, tension between the police, the demolition team, residents and their supporters immediately ensued. It started when the firemen water cannoned P. Narciso from the inside of the Second City Hall. At around 9am, the bulldozer together with the police and demolition tried twice to enter the community. By 10:25, the policemen fired their guns. The weapons used by the SWAT and the policemen were M14, M16 and .45. At the same time, the police threw teargas at the residents. The police however were still not able to get inside P. Narciso. On Artiaga, the firetruck arrived at around 9:10am. The residents and their supporters assisted the children and evacuated them temoporarily until 9:55am. Around 10am, members of the demolition team threw stones at the residents followed by water cannon. The policemen stepped backed for a moment but they immediately turned and advanced and started throwing teargas at the residents. Around 10:30am, the barricade was dismantled and the police were finally able to enter the community. By 11am, the policemen started arresting residents and supporters. Those who were taken while being arrested were beaten up by both policemen and members of the demolition team. The police laid their hands on everyone they passed by. Around 100 homes were demolished by the demolitin teams. Those who were wounded were: 1.       Reggie Tambong, 25 years old; assaulted by the police and members of the demolition team 2.       Jericho Estones, 15 years old; assaulted by the police and members of the demolition team 3.       Alvin Rosante, 14 years old; assaulted by the police and members of the demolition team 4.       Junar Pableb, 15 years old; assaulted by the police and members of the demolition team 5.       Hector Bensa, 18 years old; assaulted by the police and members of the demolition team; 6.       Rodel Vlenzuela, 17 years old; assaulted by the police and members of the demolition team 7.       MC Daniela, 14 years old; assaulted by the police and members of the demolition team 8.       Alane Lumbawa, 19 years old; assaulted by the police and members of the demolition team 9.       Ariel Bacolod, 16 years old; assaulted by the police and members of the demolition team 10.   Alvin Legarte, 14 years old; assaulted by the police and members of the demolition team 11.   Salvador Garan; wounded, was hit by a rock thrown by members of the demolition team 12.   Dino Amaredes, 17 years old; got wounded on his left knee 13.   Jerry Pacle, 20 years old; wounded on the head 14.   John Rudy, 15 years old; wounded on his left knee 15.   Francisco Lina, 21 years old; wounded on the right knee 16.   Francis Aresteros, 22 years old; acquired wounds on his hands 17.   Victor Areno, 16 years old; wounded on his head 18.   Lovely Clerigo, 17 years old; wounded on the right knee 19.   Joseph Cabatoy, 43 years old, wounded on the neck 20.   Lisa Fariscal; hinimatay, had an asthma attack due to the teargas 21.   Ramil Juvilan 22.   Maynard,   wounded on the left hand 23.   Ace, wounded on the left hand   Above is a partial list of those wounded as documented during the event. There are many other undocumented injured individuals. Arrested were: 1.       Rogelio Rosales, 30          resident 2.       Loui Perdraso, 15             resident 3.       Salvador Garzain, 55       resident 4.       Edwin Crisologo, 22         resident 5.       Jesus Duallo, 42                                resident 6.       Mark Dave Avestroz, 20 resident 7.       Senen Buban, Jr., 23       resident 8.       Roger Gavino                     resident 9.       Louiche Meperito, 17     resident 10.   Narciso Alberto, 62          resident 11.   Rodel Tejolan, 17             relative of a resdient, just helping to transport their belongings 12.   Jaime Gregorio, 24          supporter of SAMANA 13.   Mark Lui Aquino, 25        supporter of SAMANA 14.   Jay-Ar Brillante, 16           supporter of SAMANA 15.   Luke Bagangan, 17           supporter of SAMANA 16.   Manuel Veloria, 25          resident 17.   Abel Bantolo, 15               resident 18.   Another resident whose name was not yet taken More individuals were arrested at 4pm in an indignation rally held by student supporters of SAMANA. They wanted to visit the arrested residents and condemn the illegal arrest and assault on those who were arrested. According to San Juan Police Chief Acallana gave the students five minutes to protest and the studend indeed left on time. However, members of the police ran after the protester and arrested six student leaders namely: 1.       Romilo Penaverde, 21                    supporter from Mandaluyong 2.       RG Tesa, 23                                         supporter from UP-diliman 3.       Alex Vadil, 23                                     supporter from UP-diliman 4.       Rogelio Tubije, 21                            supporter from UP-diliman 5.       Thoaras Benjamin Roca, 17          supporter from UP-diliman 6.       Sander Saputalo Around 10pm, the four students from University of the Philippines, Diliman were released while the two others were left detained. The four UP Diliman students were released under the custody of the lawyers from the UP Law Center. Six of those arrested are minors, one of them is a senior citizen.   Background Baranggay Corazon de Jesus is mostly public land, meaning government-owned. It is a safe community and is not considered a danger zone. Meanwhile, most of the current residents of the village have long habited the place-ranging from 10 to 60 years. On 1978, through Presidential Decree 1716 by former President Ferdinand Marcos, the public land was placed under the local government of San Juan. Since then, the village became a populous community. From naked grasslands, the land was developed by the residents and roads were built in this place. During the time of former President Corazon Aquino, the residents of Corazon de Jesus were recognized through Executive Order 164 and the land was awarded to the latter. The same recognition was inscribed in Executive Order 54 of former President Gloria Arroyo. However, the long-reigning political clan in the local government, the Estrada-Ejercito family, prevented the awarding of lands of Corazon de Jesus to the residents. The local government of San Juan refused to acknowledge the contribution of the residents in developing Corazon de Jesus in their half-century of residence in the said village. Instead, the local government, little by little, demolished the residential structures in the village and replaced them with building projects. In the last two years, (2010-2011) the local government demolished the homes in Corazon de Jesus in order to put up a second city hall or San Juan White House. The Second City Hall is already built but  Mayor Guia Gomez and her son, Congressman, JV Ejercito wants to occupy the entire village and totally evict all the residents to give way to the parking lot of Second City Hall and commercial establishments. On the other hand, the local government of San Juan has no comprehensive – incoherent and unreliable - plan for the residents to be evicted. It persuaded residents to be relocated. There are some who agreed to the relocation and they were brought to Montalban and Lupang Aryenda in Rizal. But since the relocation site is so far from their source of livelihood, some of them went back to Corazon de Jesus. Majority of the residents of Corazon de Jesus refused to be relocated but the Office of the Mayor made it appear otherwise – that majority agreed to the relocation and only a few were left in Corazon de Jesus. In the list made by the local organization, Sandigan ng Maralitang Nagkakaisa (SAMANA), more than a thousand residents stayed in the village. Those were the ones target for demolition beginning January 11, 2012 until the end of January 2012. SAMANA wrote many times to the City Council and Office of the Mayor. They wanted to have a dialogue with the local government to present their views on the planned demolition but the Office of the Mayor refused to accept the group’s letters. The residents are demanding that the remaining land of Corazon de Jesus be awarded to them because in their view, the Second City Hall is more than enough. The residents believe that their decades of contribution to developing the land of Corazon de Jesus must be recognized by awarding the land to them instead of alloting it to commercial establishments. On January 11, 2012, another part of the Corazon de Jesus was demolished where more than 100 houses were dismantled. The city government plans to totally evict all residents by the end of January 2012. Suggested Action: Please write letters to the authorities in support of the residents of Corazon de Jesus and their fight for adequate housing. In particular you can write to: 1) Condemn the violent demolition in Corazon de Jesus perpetrated by the city government of San Juan on January 11. 2) Call for the awarding/distribution of the lands of the village to all the current residents of Brgy. Corazon de Jesus! 3) Call for the stoppage on all demolition in San Juan and uphold the people’s right to adequate housing.   You can send your letters to: His Excellency Benigno Simeon Aquino III President Republic of the Philippines Malacanang Palace JP Laurel Street, San Miguel Manila 1005, Philippines Fax: +63 2 736 1010 Tel: +63 2 735 6201 / 564 1451 to 80   Mrs. Raquel Rolnik United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to Adequate Housing Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights United Nations Office at Geneva 1211 Geneva 10 Switzerland Fax:  +41 22 917 90 06 E-mail: urgent-action(at)ohchr.org   Hon. Loretta Ann P. Rosales Chairperson Commission on Human Rights SAAC Bldg., UP Complex Commonwealth Avenue Diliman, Quezon City, Philippines 928-5655, 926-6188 Telefax: 929-0102 chair.rosales.chr@gmail.com   Please furnish us a copy of the mails you will be sending to the authorities. Cc  it to pie.ctuhr@gmail.com or to our mailing address Rm 702 Culmat Bldg. 126 E. Rodriguez Avenue, Quezon City 1102 Philippines. You can also fax it thru +632.411.0256. Thank you very much for your support.   Sincerely,     Center for Trade Union and Human Rights