By ALDWIN QUITASOL
BAGUIO CITY — The citywide urban poor alliance demands the junking of the 22-year old Republic Act 7279 or known as the Urban Development and Housing Act (UDHA).
UDHA was passed into law on March 24, 1992 and purportedly aims to “uplift the conditions of the underprivileged and homeless citizens in urban areas and in resettlement areas by making available to them decent housing at affordable cost, basic services, and employment opportunities.”
Daisy Bagni, secretary general of the Organisasyon dagiti Nakurapay nga Umili ti Siyudad (Ornus), said the objective of the law for the urban poor is good but in reality it is being used as a license to demolish houses and urban poor communities.
Bagni said that while it is true that UDHA delays the demolition of houses because of its section 28 (c) stating that a court order must first be presented before the conduct of demolition, there are many cases where houses of the urban poor were dismantled even without court orders to pave way for government projects and programs. She also criticized section 28 a and b that allow demolitions “when persons or entities occupy danger areas such as esteros, railroad tracks, garbage dumps, riverbanks, shorelines, waterways, and other public places such as sidewalks, roads, parks, and playgrounds” and “when government infrastructure projects with available funding are about to be implemented.”
She said that in Baguio, many urban poor families lost their homes because of these provisions. She cited the demolition of more than 30 houses at Cypress of Irisan village in August 2003. She said the area was eyed for a Community Mortgage Program (CMP), which is a program under UDHA. In the said program, communities are encouraged to organize associations to acquire the land but the actual occupants of the land who are supposedly the beneficiaries of the project were evicted.
Bagni explained that the CMP in Irisan missed its objectives of delivering decent housing to the poor. She said that the CMP failed to provide low-cost housing, adding that beneficiaries could not afford to pay the required amortization. She also said that the implementation of the CMP was marred with corruption.
Bagni also cited the demolition of 46 houses in March of this year at SAO, Fort del Pilar by the Philippine Military Academy (PMA). She disclosed that 18 more houses are set to be demolished. She also mentioned the demolition at Loakan-Liwanag village last March by Camp John Hay (CJH) authorities.
Bagni said the government did not bother to see why people resort to constructing their houses in disputable lands. She said the poor have no choice because of the absence of affordable housing and housing assistance.
Bagni said Ornus, together with the rest of the urban poor of the country, is calling for the scrapping of UDHA. “We demand the junking of such anti-poor programs and policies like the UDHA and the imposition of moratorium on the demolition of informal settlers pending provision of livelihood, adequate housing, and social services by the government.”
In March 2013, the national urban poor alliance Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap (Kadamay) filed a petition before the Supreme Court for the junking of UDHA. The said petition is pending at the highest court of the land. (Northern Dispatch / Reposted by Bulatlat.com)