Gov’t asked to stop shanty demolitionsBy Leila B. Salaverria
Philippine Daily Inquirer
MANILA, Philippines–The government must put a stop to the demolition of squatter shanties in Metro Manila because its off-city resettlement program still leaves a lot to be desired, and ongoing efforts to transfer illegal settlers has resulted in violence, according to Anakpawis Rep. Fernando Hicap.
Hicap filed a resolution on Monday calling on the government to impose a moratorium on the forced evictions and demolitions of urban poor communities in order to protect thousands of impoverished families.
“The Aquino administration intends to get rid of urban poor families but the government housing policy is clearly unable to provide them decent housing, let alone adequate jobs and social services which are necessary to build a habitable community,” he said in his resolution.
According to him, many urban poor families found it hard to accept the government’s resettlement program because the areas where they are to be moved present dismal conditions.
He noted that in 2011, a technical working group from the Department of Interior and Local Government found that the resettlement areas provided hardships to the relocated families.
The TWG found that the resettlement areas provide little to no access to employment, which poses a problem when it comes to the amortization of their houses. These areas also have inadequate supplies of potable water and electricity, and are too far from school and health facilities. The housing structures also had defects, the TWG added.
“Moreover, the TWG report found that “current and projected government housing programs are inadequate” to fully address the challenge of informal settlers,” Hicap said in his resolution.
He further said urban poor groups had found that the government’s housing program was like a business venture, and was a “self-sufficient enterprise predicated on cost-recovery instead of operating as a genuine social service.” This only tended to marginalize the most impoverished of households, the groups found.
Hicap also noted that the forcible eviction of illegal settlers, usually to give way to government-initiated infrastructure projects, has resulted in violent clashes between the residents and state forces.