Urgent Appeal

Female resident of San Roque assaulted by members of NHA, Ayala security

UA–120418-02 Dear friends and partners, The Center for Trade Union and Human Rights is writing to you to seek your support in condemning the physical assault done by alleged members of security personnel of the National Housing Authority and  the Ayala Land to Ms.  Jocy Lopez, a female resident of Sitio San Roque Bgy. Bagong Pag-Asa Quezon City last March 2, 2012. We are also asking you to support San Roque residents’ call to stop the harassment done by these security guards to the residents of the urban poor community. Alongside this, we are also seeking your support to the campaign for a comprehensive housing policy that will uphold and promote the urban poor residents’ right to adequate housing. Case Summary Jocy Lopez, a female resident of an urban poor community in Sitio San Roque, Bgy. Bagong Pag-Asa Quezon City, was harassed by alleged members of security personnel of Ayala Land and National Housing Authority last March 2, 2012. According to the witness, Ms. Estrelita Bagastas, President of the September 23 Movement, an organization formed in the wake of the demolition of homes in Sitio San Roque in 2010, twenty-five (25) security personnel of the Ayala Land and the NHA under the BMD security agency barged into the residence of Jocy Lopez at 7 in the morning on the said date. Bagastas narrated that a certain Shaikram Abdul Guro introduced himself as the officer-in-charge of the 25 security personnel. Abdul Guro claimed that NHA is their boss. Upon getting inside Lopez’s home, a retired police officer named “Angel” who was also with the group reportedly handcuffed Jocy while Abdul Guro held her chest and the other members of the security group assaulted the woman by twisting her neck and arms. Another hit Jocy’s back with his elbow while the rest of the guards surrounded the woman.  Suddenly, a cry among the security personnel was heard: “Kill that woman! What are your guns for?!” [“Patayin ang babaing yan! Anong ginagawa ng mga baril niyo (sic)”]. Bagastas narrated that Abdul Guro got mad at Jocy after a shanty (barong-barong) was built beside the latter’s house without asking permission from the former. Jocy Lopez is a known leader of a women’s organization in the community. She continues to receive threats that her children will be abducted. Residents also continue to fear that their homes will be burned one day in order to swiftly evict them from the area. Beginning December 2011, residents said that unknown men who are wearing bonnets and black clothes and carrying gallons of gasoline regularly go around the community inducing fear among the residents. The next morning after the incident in Jocy’s home, security guards carrying gallons of gasoline also roamed around the community. Background The community of San Roque used to be home to 206,000 individuals and 7,000 families who have lived in the area for more than 3 decades. After the violent September 23 demolition executed by the local government of Quezon City purportedly to “develop” the area into a commercial district, nearly half of the residents were forced out of the community. Some of them, agreed to self-demolish their homes and accept money or relocation. To date, 4,000 families continue to resist eviction and relocation to Montalban, Rizal. They complain that aside from being far from their workplace and livelihood, the offered relocation in Montalban also lies above a fault-line and is thus, a hazardous place for residence. In fact, residents who accepted the Montalban relocation are now going back to Sitio San Roque because of lack of access to livelihood and basic services. Sitio San Roque covers a 340-hectare land. Two hundred fifty (250) hectares of this North Triangle property is target for development as part of the Quezon City Business District, a banner project of the city local government in cooperation with Ayala Land Corporation. After the violent demolition on September 23, 2010, President Benigno Aquino III ordered an indefinite suspension of demolition within the area.   Residents however continue to fear of eviction once the moratorium is lifted which can happen anytime since so-called development projects are aggressively being undertaken throughout the entire country. Suggested Action Residents of San Roque are seeking a dialogue with the President to settle the issue and ask that they be allowed to stay in the community permanently. Alongside this, they are demanding that any future development project within the city should also include projects that will promote and uphold their welfare and development particularly their right to adequate housing. Kindly write to authorities calling them to: 1) Condemn and investigate the assault and harassment on Ms. Jocy Reyes by the above-mentioned security personnel. 2) Stop the harassment of San Roque residents by unknown men who are suspiciously going around the community while carrying gallons of gasoline. 3) Make a comprehensive housing policy that is not market-oriented, instead, one that will ensure that development projects will include the development and welfare of the residents of affected areas for demolition in accordance with their resident’s right to adequate housing. Please send your letters to the following:
His Excellency Benigno Simeon Aquino III
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
Ms. Raquel Rolnik
UN Special Rapporteur for Adequate Housing
Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)
Palais des Nations
CH-1211 Geneva 10, Switzerland
Hon. Loretta Ann P. Rosales
Commission on Human Rights
SAAC Bldg., UP Complex
Commonwealth Avenue
Diliman, Quezon City, Philippines
928-5655, 926-6188
Telefax: 929-0102
Hon. Leila de Lima
Department of Justice
Padre Faura St. Malate, Manila, Philippines 1000
E-mail: soj@doj.gov.ph
Atty. Chito M. Cruz
General Manager
National Housing Authority
Elliptical Road, Diliman, 1100, Quezon City
Telefax: 921-2530/ 926-5214
Hon. Herbert Baustista
City Mayor
Quezon City
Elliptical Road, Brgy. Central
Diliman, Quezon City 1100
+63 2 444-7272
Center for Trade Union and Human Rights