Guatemala demolition shows bias vs the poor

Human rights group Karapatan today slammed the forced eviction and violent demolition of homes of some 256 families at Guatemala Street, Brgy. San Isidro in Makati City, as they called on Mayor Jejomar “Junjun” Binay Jr. and the Department of Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas to immediately stop such operations in the area, including the arrests of residents who participated in the protests yesterday.

Based on the initial report of Karapatan-National Capital Region, eight individuals were arrested, after the residents barricaded the entrances to their community to prevent the local government’s demolition teams and the police from demolishing their homes. The said eviction was conducted to pave the way for the construction of a multi-million peso community complex and basketball court in the area.

Cristina Palabay, Karapatan secretary general, said “the actions of the city government show how inhumane local government officials are in treating urban poor communities, in exchange for such paltry projects at the expense of the people’s rights to livelihood and decent housing.” 

The Guatemala Neighborhood Association officials said they refused to transfer to the relocation site in Calauan, Laguna because there were no houses constructed, and there are no water and electricity facilities in the area, aside from the lack of sources of livelihood.

Palabay said these acts constitute violations of international human rights standards on decent and adequate housing and the International Convention on economic and socio-cultural rights. “Oftentimes, the urban poor settlers are blamed for occupying empty lots and estero, and for the violence that erupts during demolition. But for once, we ask the government to look at things from the point of view of the poor, homeless families who are forced to stay in cramped areas, under the bridge, along breakwater because these are the only places available to them; these are the only places near their sources of livelihood.”

“The resistance of the residents of Guatemala Street is but a legitimate and justified act of protest against the anti-poor project of the Makati City government and the prevalent policy of the Aquino administration to render hundreds and thousands of poor families homeless. Ganito sila sa Makati, at ganito rin sila sa buong Pilipinas – nagpapalayas ng mga maralita sa kanilang tahanan at nagpapahirap lalo sa kanila,” Palabay concluded.