‘Fire being used against squatters’
Evictions of urban poor communities in Metro Manila have gone down so far this year, but fire is becoming a means to permanently evict informal settlers, the Urban Poor Associates (UPA) said Tuesday.
From January to August this year, a total of 7,060 families were evicted in 14 demolitions, down from 8,201 families in 29 incidents during the same period last year, UPA noted in a study.
“All 14 of the 2011 eviction incidents were considered illegal because they did not meet the legal requirements for evictions [under] the Urban Development and Housing Act,” it said.
While there were fewer demolitions this year, these involved larger urban areas, UPA observed.
Eight of the evictions involved government lands, three were privately owned while the rest covered lots encroaching on esteros. Evictions in San Juan, Navotas, Makati and Pasig turned violent, it said.
UPA also observed that 12 fires broke out in urban poor communities that displaced 9,849 families from January to May this year.
“Three out of 12 fires were believed by the people to have [been set] intentionally to force them out of places where they have lived for more than 15 years. They thought the government used fire because it is the easiest way to remove people. The majority of families who lost their homes were not allowed to return,” it said.
A total of 6,114 families or 62 percent of the affected families were prohibited from returning to their homes, UPA added.