Labor NGO condemns violent demolition in San Juan

January 18, 2012

The Center for Trade Union and Human Rights condemned the violent demolition of homes in Corazon de Jesus, saying that the brute force and displacement of families from their homes are “never justifications for so-called development projects.”

Arman Hernando, CTUHR documentation head said, “We condemn the violence the local government of San Juan enforced on its very constituents leaving tens of families homeless. Utter disregard for basic rights are never justifications for so-called development projects.”

“When 121 families lose their homes and their source of income, and when the government uses absolute force and violence on its people to pave the way for a new city hall, can we actually say that their programs are developmental?”

On January 11, homes of 121 families in Bgy. Corazon de Jesus were demolished under the order of the local government of San Juan. Around 23 individuals were injured when the policemen and demolition team forced their way to the community breaking the barricade built by the residents. Aside from using a bulldozer and a firetruck, the police also threw teargas, beat the residents with their clubs and fired guns aimlessly to threaten the resisting residents.

Twenty-four other residents and supporters were illegally arrested during and after the confrontation. Around 100 homes were demolished despite the strong resistance of the residents.  Most of them vowed to stay even with their homes already dismantled as they continue to refuse to be relocated in far areas.

Right to housing is right to life

In an urgent appeal sent by Demolition Watch to the UN Rapporteur to Right to Adequate Housing Raquel Rolnik, the group reiterated their belief that the right to adequate housing is not only the people’s right to have a shelter, but also the people’s right to life, to decent work and adequate standard of living.

Like other cases of urban demolitions, residents of Corazon de Jesus are offered relocation sites in far places such as Rodriguez, Rizal away from the residents’ workplaces and lacks access to basic services such as hospitals and education. Instead, the residents insist that the land should be distributed amongst them by the local government as it was already awarded to them by former President Corazon Aquino and former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

“Resistance [of the residents] is justified. To them, Corazon de Jesus is way more habitable than the proposed relocation site. They are merely fighting for survival. The government for the longest time have neglected them and yet it is first to suppress their resistance. Indeed, they have no one else to turn to but to themselves to defend their rights and interests.They are willing to sacrifice their lives for their right to housing and their right to life,” Hernando added.

Demolitions and PPP

“The right to adequate housing is a legitimate call of the people. It is enshrined in the UN Convention on the Economic Social and Cultural Rights which the Philippine Government ratified. And we will continue to push the government to fulfill this obligation.”

“But with the rate of one demolition every month under the Aquino admistration, this basic right is being widely-violated. And with government’s brainchild policy, public-private-partnership, more ‘development projects’ would lead to more displacement of the poor in both urban and rural communities. The people are thus challenged time and again to be more resolute in defending their rights,” Hernando avers.###