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MANILA, Philippines -- Following the violent demolition of illegal settlers in Paranaque City, Commission on Human Rights has reminded all concerned government agencies and local government units that adequate housing is a human right and that “if there is no proper issuance of court order and a provision of adequate relocation, there must be no demolition or eviction.”
The commission also cautioned everyone against possible abuses and violations of rights in the conduct of evictions or demolitions. It warned anyone who violates the provisions of the Urban Development and Housing Act of 1992 that they may be charged with appropriate criminal, civil, and administrative cases.
Alarmed by the frequent violent evictions and demolitions where lives and limbs are at stake, CHR Chairperson Loretta Ann Rosales said, the commission, as the national human rights institution mandated to promote and protect the human rights of all Filipinos, has issued an advisory on the rights to adequate housing and to humane treatment during evictions.
”We have sent copies to all government agencies, the military, the police and the LGUs, and many have already responded and expressed willingness to implement this advisory,” she said.
”We have also given the same to President Aquino and he decided to issue a presidential order for adequate housing and proper and humane treatment on demolitions,” she added.
At the press briefing on the CHR 1st Quarter Human Rights Report on Tuesday at the CHR Office in Quezon City, Rosales, together with the CHR commissioners, noted that the 1987 Constitution declares as a matter of policy that "the State values the dignity of every human person and guarantees full respect for human rights," including the right to adequate housing.
The CHR en banc also said that as provided for in the Constitution, the urban poor or rural poor dwellers shall not be evicted nor their dwellings demolished, except in accordance with the law and in just manner.
The advisory provides that “in case eviction or demolition is deemed necessary as a measure of last resort," the following safeguards are mandatory and must be strictly complied with:
* Notice upon the affected persons or entities at least 30 days prior to the date of eviction or demolition;
* Presence of local government officials or their representatives during the eviction or demolition;
* Proper identification of all persons taking part in the demolition;
* Execution of eviction or demolition only during regular office hours from Mondays to Fridays and not during inclement weather and disasters, unless the affected families consent otherwise;
* No use of heavy equipment for demolition except for structures that are permanent and of concrete materials;
* Proper uniforms for members of the Philippine National Police who should occupy the first line of law enforcement and observe proper disturbance control procedures; and,
* Adequate relocation.
In conclusion, the CHR urged all stakeholders, especially the local government units, the police, and other government agencies to adopt as policy the standards and guidelines contained in the advisory.