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President’s moratorium on demolitions ignored by San Juan officials

MANILA (Agencies) : Father Edu Gariguez has criticised the January 12 violent demolition of shanty dwellings in San Juan City which left 26 people injured.

Speaking on behalf of the National Secretariat for Social Action, Father Gariguez said it is disappointing that the demolition happened despite a moratorium on relocation of people in poor areas in Metro Manila.

“What is happening to our urban poor is really sad,” Father Gariguez told Radyo Veritas. “This is an issue on social justice, so the Church has to act on this.”

Last year, the president, Noynoy Aquino, ordered a moratorium on relocation until the government comes up with a master plan to address the problems created in the city by informal settlers.

“The urban poor support President Aquino, so it would be a slap on their faces if the president won’t do anything about it,” CBCP News reported him as saying.

Authorities, demolition personnel of the San Juan City government and informal settlers living in Barangay Corazon de Jesus clashed during a relocation operation by the local government.

Reports say a number of residents were scheduled to be relocated to Rodriguez, Rizal, on that day, but they insisted on staying and built a barricade blocking access to the demolition team.

The conflict lasted for about two hours with the displaced residents throwing home-made explosives, stones, empty bottles and firing slingshots at the demolition team.

Father Gariguez added that the law dictates that there is to be no demolition of shanties in squatter areas without the provision of what has been termed proper relocation sites.

He claimed on Radyo Veritas that the rights of the residents had been violated by officials of San Juan City because they went ahead and enforced the demolition order.

“Actually, the demolition team and the city government of San Juan violated the law,” Father Gariguez emphasised.