demolition blues

27 September 2010

says fr. joaquin g. bernas in inquirer:

Relocation of informal settlers. You might say that the constitutional command is clear enough: “Urban or rural poor dwellers shall not be evicted nor their dwellings demolished, except in accordance with law and in a just and humane manner. No resettlement of urban or rural dwellers shall be undertaken without adequate consultation with them and the communities where they are to be relocated.”

Does this mean that the validity or legality of the demolition or eviction hinges on the existence of a resettlement area designated or earmarked by the government? That would be the ideal; but jurisprudence has answered that question in the negative. What is required is that “the person to be evicted be accorded due process or an opportunity to controvert the allegation that his or her occupation or possession of the property involved is unlawful or against the will of the landowner; that should the illegal or unlawful occupation be proven, the occupant be sufficiently notified before actual eviction or demolition is done; and there be no loss of lives, physical injuries or unnecessary loss of or damage to properties.”

As can readily be seen, legal pronouncements on the subject will not be enough to prevent the confusion and damage to persons such as those which happened in recent evictions in Metro Manila.

says bantay pilipinas’ jerry esguerra on facebook:

THE PEOPLE VERSUS WALL STREET POWERHOUSE

The driving force behind the P3 billion Quezon City Central Business District (QCCBD) project is none other than World Bank itself. From its early inception WB has sold the idea of QCCBD as the mecca of new and forward looking economic development within Metro Manila area and outlying regions.

Generally dubbed as a mixed-use commercial/residential/recreational district – the 250 hectare Triangle Park project will displace 16,000 poor families. Ironically the 37 hectare property where San Roque is nestled belongs to the National Housing Authority of the Philippines and is leased to Robinsons Land Corporation – one of the biggest mall and residential developer in the Philippines.

Past World Bank projects were designed to expand capitalist activities in its host country hence greatly enhancing the profitability of American Companies. The Triangle Park development project which is closely modeled after the Makati Business and Commercial District will surely benefit Citigroup, American Express, Starbucks, KFC, Coca Cola, Nike, Gap, Hollywood film and music companies, etc.

San Roque is where the “rubber meets the road” in the realm of the antagonism between the capitalists and the poor.

says mon ramirez on facebook:

1. Does Quezon City really need another mall and… commercial area? I don’t think there is need for more when we have so much square feet of them in various parts of the city already.

2. The area in question is 37 hectares and is owned by government.

Why can’t the city government allot 4 hectares to build low-cost housing for these settlers? One hectare is equivalent to 10,000 square meters. A five to six-story housing in a hectare of land can contain 50-60,000 square meters, enough to house 2,000 families if given a 30 sqm unit each (in Montalban, the NHA is offering them a living space of 20 sqm each).

Three or four of such buildings can accommodate these families, leaving enough space for the business development plans of the city government.

And perhaps the settlers will be willing to pay more than the P200-300 they are asked to pay in Montalban, maybe P500 or more, for the ‘premium’ of staying near their jobs or close to job opportunities.

3. These settlers can be trained and/or enskilled (there are so many NGOs, which are supposed to be helping and can help, apart from government agencies like TESDA) to take on the construction and other jobs once actual construction begins. So they need not be dependent on government and will have the income to pay for their needs, including the mortgage for their housing units.

One problem with conventional ‘master planning’ and ‘city planning’ is planners only see the likes ofthe Ayalas and other developers as creators of value, not the mass of the lower income classes on whose muscle and sweat the high-rise and fancy malls and other real estate projects get built, not the security guard or driver or plumber or gardener who perform various odd jobs and services so that our homes and lawns and toilets and cars and offices run smoothly, and so that we don’t have do and/or learn the job ourselves.

They conjure their ‘development visions’ of the city as if these spaces were ’empty’ or can be ’emptied’ of these lives, who have as much right to the city as the Juan or Juana already paying the mortgage for their homes in private subdivisions.

‘Development’ gets spatialised, with the poor, literally and figuratively, pushed to the margins. It is as if we put them 23 kilometers away or far away where we can’t see them the poverty they experience will go away. The problem just gets transferred temporarily. It does not contribute to solving poverty in the city, and in the country in general. And perhaps makes it even worse as these people lose their jobs and their meager sources of income in the city.

When the city planners developed their master plan in 2007, they should have included these settlers as part of the planning team; in development jargon, as among the ‘stakeholders’, whose stakes are as equal, if not more, since it is their homes/shelters and livelihood that are at risk. What is 4 hectares out of 37? What is the social value that can be created when these people are given better chances to fight poverty rather than pushed further into the social and spatial edges, where their chances are less or diminished?

It would be refreshing to have a city executive, whose jurisdiction encompasses the largest number of informal settlers in the metropolis, whose ‘development vision’ of the city is truly ‘social’ (not just paying lip service and ‘politicking’), and approaches city development from the perspective of human rights, not just of the rich and middle class, but of the poor as well, and their right to have a place in the city as well as contribute to its development and planning.

says james cordova in asian correspondent:

It’s not as if these squatters have a choice. It’s not as if these communities are little Edens. For many of these people, being in a slum area is about survival, about life and death. You move them to another province without viable livelihood and you kill them.

Their existence betrays the government’s incompetence and troubles: it lacks the livelihood to keep people in their provinces and it lacks the same thing when the squatters are forced to move to urban areas. At least in the urban areas, their options for livelihood are far greater.

What adds insult to injury in this case is that the land in question is not something that is owned by a private person or group. It is owned by the government. For some reason, the National Housing Authority, whose mission is to provide housing for the poor, has struck a deal with Ayala Land that deprived the squatters of their houses.

To be fair to the squatters, they’re not saying they don’t want to give up their homes. All they want is a relocation site that is near their places of work and the schools of their children. But no, the NHA decided to relocate them 20 kilometers away, to the town of Montalban, Rizal, where it takes more than an hour to commute…

The lives of these 6,000 families have been disrupted by the shortsightedness of the government. But I’m probably being kind. More to the point, the government treats these people as trash. Montalban, after all, is where Metro Manila throws its garbage, both the literal and human kind.

7 Responses to demolition blues

  1. September 27, 2010 at 4:22 pm
    GabbyD

    “To be fair to the squatters, they’re not saying they don’t want to give up their homes. All they want is a relocation site that is near their places of work and the schools of their children. But no, the NHA decided to relocate them 20 kilometers away, to the town of Montalban, Rizal, where it takes more than an hour to commute…”

    to be fair to them? people ROUTINELY communte an hour away from where they live. happens all the time. 20 km away is an hour? OA naman… kung umalis ka ng 5-6am, 30 min lang yan for sure. puwede pa silang magpatayo ng sarling transpo cooperative! thats sure profits! from news reports, may school naman doon…

    parang malabo ang mga “to be fair” arguments nila. wealthier people do all of these things travel long(er) distances to work, move their kids to a new school, etc…

  2. September 27, 2010 at 5:39 pm

    “More to the point, the government treats these people as trash.”-James Cordova

    What thrash talk. Treating squatters as thrash by giving them land and houses for free. Wow, I’d like to be treated as thrash, :).

    Mr. Cordova, have you tried walking along Agham Road, the back street where those squatters have their shanties, using your cellphone, or wearing jewelries? Maybe you should try it, before you open your mouth condemning your government for trying to clean up your environment.

  3. September 27, 2010 at 5:56 pm

    “…who have as much right to the city as the Juan or Juana…”-Mon Ramirez

    Heheh, what a right to the city that must be, illegally occupying public and private land for private gain.

    I hope Mr. Ramirez has some land in Quezon City for giveaways to those poor souls who have as much right as Mr. Ramirez to live in his land, :).

  4. September 28, 2010 at 1:51 am

    @Bert:

    “I hope Mr. Ramirez has some land in Quezon City for giveaways to those poor souls.”

    That would be forlorn if not rhetorical hope. When liberals bleed, their hearts tend to be also made of stone. Of course they talk of giving away not their property but someone else’s, such as that of government or those Evil Capitalists.

  5. September 28, 2010 at 3:07 am
    UP nn grad

    This is reinforcement — that 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014 will be good years for Pilipinas since hacendero-kid Benigno Simeon “Noynoy” Aquino has become president. Hacendero-kids are tutored in the dexterity of how to use the strong arm of the law when dealing with tenants and especially squatters.

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