The press conference held on December 5, 9:00 AM (4:00 P.M. Philippine time) at the United Nations Headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland. The Center on Housing Rights and Evictions (COHRE) named Nigeria, Philippines and Greece as recipients of the group’s 2006 Housing Rights Violator Awards. It accused the recipients of severe human rights violations for systematically violating housing rights and continued failure to abide by local and international legal obligations.
In the Philippines, 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 Philippine National Railway system referred to as the ‘Northrail-Southrail Linkage Project.’, he said.
“COHRE”s research reveals that most of the evictees have been moved to relocation sites where living conditions are appalling due to a lack of basic services such as potable water, electricity and sanitation facilities. The unsanitary conditions and an outbreak of dengue fever at the Southville relocation site in Cabuyao have claimed the lives of 12 infants and children this year. Forced evictions and demolitions are also being carried out in preparation for the 12th ASEAN Summit to be hosted by the Philippines next week. The evictions and demolition in Metro Cebu have left more than 3,000 people homeless since September 2006.”
Three Catholic Bishops, including Manila Archbishop Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales, have criticized the government’s eviction practices along the railroad, according to the Urban Poor Associates (UPA).
On December 6, 10:00 AM Urban Poor Associates held a press conference at a café frequented by media workers. Photojournalists, beat reporters and a cable TV news came to the event. Presscon speakers were Atty Bien Salinas, Ted Anana, both from UPA Manny Calonzo from Ecowaste and Ester Terencio, president of the people’s organization at the resettlement site. UPA called on the Philippine government that the embarrassing award should serve as a wake up call and to observe its obligations to promote,protect and fulfil the right to adequate housing of every Filipino, especially the urban poor.
Urban poor children presented a mock up of a huge rotten pumpkin to symbolise the housing rights violator award to the Philippine government “President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo” and “VP Noli de Castro.” For a Filipino to be given a pumpkin (kalabasa in Pilipino) means public recognition of failure.