|Photo borrowed here|
Can we eliminate squatters?
Personally, I think UDHA was created to enforce the elimination of squatters. It’s an initiative wherein we must all comply to arrive at its established objectives. But then, enforcement of the law is much more different than its legislation. All local government units and government agencies concerned should work hand-in-hand to fulfil this. The problem in our country lies on politics and the many personalities who cradle informal settlers as they are a source of vote during elections.
Is eviction a humanitarian action?
My take on this question would be best illustrated by quoting an excerpt from the speech of Sec. Leila de Lima about human rights in the Philippines in connection with the decision of the Supreme Court regarding the Manila Bay Case.
Human Rights encompass several rights and cuts across several segments of society. After all, all rights are indivisible, universal and equally important. In an ideal world, all rights can be equally protected and with equal priority. The Supreme Court Decision in the Manila Bay Case is an example of the difficult task of balancing equally important interests. The issues of sustainable development and ecological balance are pitted against the right to live – the right to a have home, the right against unlawful evictions, the right to development, the right to a living wage and other rights.
The Commission on Human Rights has always been supportive of urban poor groups. We are concerned with the difficulties that the urban poor face, without even the specter of forced evictions. There is a need to ensure that the backbone of our urban labor force can live in decency and respectability in spite of their poverty. And where they face patently illegal eviction, we have to protect them.
However, we cannot protect human rights and at the same time, accommodate illegality. The delicate balance of upholding both human rights and other statutes have always been difficult – we cannot stop demolitions where they are legal and with basis. We cannot stop evictions where the purpose is to protect and promote another equally important right, which in this case is a balanced ecology.