By JANESS ANN J. ELLAO
MANILA – The Philippine government has been urged to implement a moratorium on demolition as urban poor families continue to face threats of eviction even amid the pandemic.
“How are we going to stay at home when you are about to demolish our houses? How are we going to heed quarantine protocols when people will be left in the streets to live? Demolition must stop,” said Mimi Doringo, Kadamay spokesperson.
Among the most recent urban poor communities facing eviction threats are families residing along Legaspi Street of the tourist destination, Intramuros. Urban poor families who have been residing there for about 40 to 50 years have been told to vacate their homes by today.
The eviction threats continue despite the Philippine urban poor not receiving sufficient social protection from the government and access to mass testing and other medical interventions related to addressing the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a press kit furnished to Bulatlat, Tulong Kabataan – Intramuros said residents of the Intramuros community are mostly earning a living as pedicab drivers and street vendors. They first faced eviction threats back in 2007 but this was foiled due to the community’s determination to defend their homes and livelihood.
However, residents began receiving notices of demolition earlier this month after a court reportedly granted the civil case plea of a private company. The same private company has also managed to secure a pre-demolition Conference, despite earlier government policies, stating that demolitions cannot be enforced without a relocation program. On Sept. 11, the Presidential Commission for the Urban Poor, too, has said in media interviews that they asked the Philippine government’s lead COVID-19 response agency to issue a moratorium on demolition.
At a time when Filipino families are being told to stay at home, urban poor families in Intramuros said they have not received any relocation program at all. Residents also lamented that the Manila police has been assisting the private company in carrying out the demolition.
Apart from Intramuros residents, about 5,000 residents in the Katuparan Housing Project in Vitas, Tondo are also facing threats of demolition as the area is geared to make way for another housing project under the National Housing Authority.
Community leaders in Market 3 in Navotas City have already been reportedly summoned by the Philippine Navy to “surrender their fight for their housing,” according to Kadamay.