Urban poor leader hopes int’l tribunal could serve justice

(Photo by J. Ellao / Bulatlat.com)
(Photo by J. Ellao / Bulatlat.com)

The demolition of homes in North Triangle is among the cases that would be filed against President Aquino in the coming International People’s Tribunal in Washington DC in July.

By JANESS ANN J. ELLAO
Bulatlat.com

MANILA – September 23, 2010.

That day is forever etched in Estrelieta Bagasbas’ mind when she and her neighbors claimed EDSA to defend and barricade their homes in Sitio San Roque in Quezon City from the demolition team. Meanwhile, she said, President Benigno Aquino III, who ate a hotdog sandwich in the streets of New York to prove he was different from his luxurious, corrupt predecessor, was quick to react and called for a moratorium on demolition.

But the urban poor leader said Aquino was no different from President Gloria Arroyo. During and after the moratorium was lifted, she added, demolitions continued and even intensified.

“The urban poor are among the most-attacked sectors under Aquino. We are treated like dirt, threatened and our homes and livelihood destroyed,” Bagasbas told Bulatlat.com.

The demolition of homes in North Triangle is among the cases that would be filed against Aquino in the upcoming International People’s Tribunal in Washington DC on July 16-17. The IPT was formally announced in a press conference at the University of the Philippines on March 12.

Apart from the demolition of their homes, President Aquino and US President Barack Obama would be tried for other cases of violations of civil-political rights, socio-economic rights, right to self-determination.

There used to be nearly 20,000 families residing in North Triangle, a land owned by the government’s National Housing Authority. Their homes, however, were demolished to give way to a Public-Private Partnership project, the Quezon City Central Business District.

Due to pocket demolitions purportedly for a road widening program, the NHA estimates that there are still roughly 4,500 families who reside in the community. But, Bagasbas said, there could be more.

She estimated that in their recent survey, there were still some 7,000 families, because many returned from far-flung relocation sites, citing lack of jobs and livelihoods.

On Monday, NHA officials, along with staff of the Ayala Land, the big real estate company that will develop the area, conducted another ocular inspection in their community, Bagasbas narrated.

“They plan to have our homes completely demolished by April,” she added.

Bagasbas said, “we hope that justice would be served not just for the residents of North Triangle but to all our fellow Filipinos.” ()

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