Sunday, November 30, 2008

Hundreds of homeless occupy vacant prime lot in Paranaque

Press Release
November 30, 2008
Alyansa ng Maralitang Pilipino


Starting last night some 500 homeless in the city of Paranaque started building makeshift houses in a direct occupation of a vacant prime lot in the Merville area. Eduardo Casuy, a leader of the Alyansa ng Maralitang Pilipino-Paranaque chapter said that “We appeal for understanding from our fellow Filipinos for we have been without homes for years already and yet this lot remains unoccupied simply because it is private property. Private property cannot be a higher value than the right of the poor to have a home.”

The 1.2 hectare lot owned by the Molave Corp. is one the biggest lots in Merville. It sits right beside a recently built condominium and supermarket by the Gokongweis, and is just a stone’s throw away from the SM mall in Bicutan.

“Our struggle is no different from the Sumilao farmers who have remained landless for years despite being beneficiaries of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program. A city ordinance expropriating this unoccupied land has remained inutile since 2000 when it was signed by the former Mayor Joey Marquez. Thus we are forced to implement it ourselves rather than remain homeless,” argued Tita Candelario of the Tucuma Federation in Paranaque.

Most of the urban poor who direct occupied the vacant lot came from the Tucuma Federation who originally petitioned for the expropriation of the land. Others were victims of a violent demolition that happened November 30, 2005 in the nearby Cul-de-sac area on the instigation of Tony Leviste who the people alleged only illegally acquired the disputed land.

Renato Magtubo of the Partido ng Manggagawa called on the national and local government to desist from forcibly evicting the people from the land and thereby provoking a bloody confrontation. “The least the government can do in a time of crisis is not to demolish the homes of the poor and destroy their livelihood,” he averred.

The leaders of the homeless declared that they do not want any violence to occur but the people are also ready to defend their newly-built houses. They announced that they are open to dialogue and negotiate with both the government and the landowner for a peaceful resolution of the issue.

In the meantime, Casuy stated that “This is the best Heroes Day commemoration for us. The nation celebrates Bonifacio for his cry of Balintawak that culminated in Philippine independence. We only ask that the government heed too the cry of the homeless for independence from poverty and injustice.”

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