Experts to Arroyo: Respect Rights of Poor, Stop Forced Evictions

Apr. 03, 2007

Mass human rights violations such as forced evictions and the destruction of
housing continue unabated in the Philippines, warns the Geneva-based Centre on
Housing Rights and Evictions (COHRE), and its team of international human
rights experts.

COHRE, the Urban Poor Associates (UPA), and experts from Cambodia, Indonesia,
Australia and South Africa are concerned about widespread housing rights
violations, after visiting residents at the Southville relocation site in
Cabuyao yesterday. The team of experts also visited families evicted from their
homes along the waterways and railroad tracks in Manila.

More than 145,000 people (29,000 families) have already been evicted from their
homes in Metro Manila and Bulacan province since early 2005 due to the
rehabilitation of the Philippines National Railway system, referred to as the
Northrail-Southrail Linkage Project. A total of 914 families living along
waterways have also been evicted by the Metro Manila Development Authority
(MMDA) since February this year, and another 500 families face the threat of
imminent eviction.

Dan Nicholson, Coordinator of COHREs Asia and Pacific Programme, said, All
those who participated in the COHRE-led fact-finding mission were visibly moved
by the desperate circumstances of the affected communities. It is clear that
basic international human rights on forced evictions, and the law of the
Philippines, have not been complied with. We trust that the relevant
Philippines authorities will look into prosecuting those responsible for
breaches of the law.

Nicholson added, Philippine governments at both national and local levels have
repeatedly chosen to overlook the human rights of citizens by carrying out
arbitrary forced evictions. The evictions have caused thousands of urban poor
to lose their homes and livelihoods, and left them destitute. It is of great
concern that these evictions continue to take place throughout the

Teodoro Aana, Deputy Coordinator of the Urban Poor Associates (UPA) in Manila,
said, Greater engagement is needed between government, NGOs and urban poor
communities to develop alternatives to evictions and to encourage development
that promotes basic human rights in the Philippines.

Last December, the Government of Philippines was given one of three Housing
Rights Violator Awards for 2006 by COHRE, for the forced eviction of hundreds
of thousands of people in the name of beautification and development, with
the urban poor being the worst affected. COHRE, and its team of international
experts, stand by these findings, despite the denials of the Philippine

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