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Catholic leaders slam demolition of squatters' homes

Clash leaves at least five people injured as Philippine police move in to evict settlers in Manila slum

Mark Saludes, Manila

Mark Saludes, Manila

Published: June 15, 2016 06:52 AM GMT

Updated: June 15, 2016 10:01 AM GMT

Catholic leaders slam demolition of squatters' homes

Armed police disperse urban poor residents who set up a barricade to prevent authorities from demolishing their homes in Quezon City on June 14. (Photo by Mike Taboy) 

Philippine church leaders have decried the demolition of squatters' homes in a slum in Manila's Quezon City this week.

"It is a perennial problem that has to be resolved once and for all," said Benedictine Sister Mary John Mananzan, a human rights advocate.

Some 80 families were affected after authorities tore down their houses located in a 2,000-square meter compound in the village of Culiat.

In an attempt to block the demolition team, residents set up a barricade resulting in a clash with police.

At least five people, including an elderly woman were hurt in the clash.

Carlito Badion, general secretary of the urban poor group Kadamay, said the demolition of the houses was to pave the way to commercially develop the area.

The government has allotted at least 21 relocation sites for squatters in nearby provinces, but Badion told ucanews.com the projects are implemented through a public-private partnership program that does not benefit the poor.

"Private contractors with government permission fund and build sub-standard houses with incomplete facilities and utilities," Badion said.

Each house costs about U.S. $10,700.

According to Badion these types of houses would only cost about U.S.$2,000 each if the government built them. 

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"What is happening now is that the government pass housing projects on to their private partners who dictate the prices, which is impossible for an urban poor family to afford," said Sister Mananzan.

Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo of Manila said the church has been urging the government to provide proper relocation for people before any attempt to disperse slum dwellers.

"They cannot just put poor families in these areas with no basic government services," said the prelate.

He said aside from offering houses in nearby provinces, the government should also provide jobs and livelihoods for urban poor families to prevent them from returning to the cities.

Kadamay said at least 200,000 individuals flock to the cities every year to look for work.

"About 100,000 of them become informal settlers [squatters] because they cannot afford to rent or buy houses in the city," said Badion.






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