KAKAMPI MO ANG BATAS: QC, demolition capital of RP PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 01 December 2011 13:31

BY Atty. BATAS MAURICIO

LIFE’S INSPIRATIONS: “… Do not fret because of those who are evil or be envious of those who do wrong; for like the grass they will soon wither, like green plants they will soon die away…” (Proverbs 37:1-2, the Holy Bible).
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QC, DEMOLITION CAPITAL OF RP: As things stand, Quezon City is now the “demolition capital” not only of Metro Manila but of the entire Philippines, and the fiery and violent clash between poor residents occupying a big parcel of land along BIR Road in Diliman, Quezon City, and the police who were not even supposed to be there last Tuesday, November 29, 2011, attests to this infamous honor.

The fact is that there is an on-going demolition binge in Quezon City right now, under the term of Mayor Herbert “Bistek” Bautista, which actually is a spill over from the same heartless demolition binge under the city’s previous administrations and previous mayors. What is amazing in all these is that demolitions are being carried out even without court orders.

The wrecking of houses and residential units, most of which were home to hundreds and thousands of Quezon City residents who had no other place to go as a result of dire poverty, seemed to be a legacy Mayor Bautista and his predecessors wanted to leave, carried out by their trusted lieutenants under the Task Force Copriss of the Office of the Mayor, and by the City Building Official.
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LAW VIOLATED IN QC DEMOLITIONS: What is revolting to many is the fact that in justifying the demolition of shanties and make-shift structures in Quezon City, Mayor Bautista and his subordinates are  saying that the unmistakably poor owners of the premises are “professional squatters” and that, under Republic Act 7279 or the Urban Development and Housing Act of 1992, the local government unit has the right to evict them.

But then, the same Act requires prior proof that the shanties’ owners are indeed “professional squatters”, before any demolition is to be carried out against them. Unfortunately, Mayor Bautista’s men are no longer following this law—when they take fancy on a shanty as belonging to someone they call, even if whimsically, as a “professional squatter”, they immediately act on their own and order its demolition.

This is leading many to ask: what gives, Mayor Bautista? Why is the law’s requirement of a previous hearing being ignored and disregarded? Why the rush to demolish shanties in Quezon City, even if the requirements of RA 7279 about a prior hearing, where the suspected professional squatter is required to be given a chance to defend himself, have not been complied with?
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HEARING REQUIRED PRIOR TO A DEMOLITION: Along this line, I wish to borrow from a pleading submitted by my lawyer-wife, Angelina, for and in behalf of two people from Project 8, Quezon City, whose houses were demolished by Mayor Bautista’s Task Force Copriss and City Building Official, to explain the requirements of a prior hearing on the issue of who is a “professional squatter”.

My wife said: “There is no question that the law gives local government units, the Philippine National Police, the Presidential Commission for the Urban Poor and the PCUP-accredited urban poor organization in the area, the right to identify who could be considered as professional squatters and squatting syndicates, and thereafter undertake their summary eviction and the demolition of their structures...

“But that grant of right notwithstanding, it is clear that its exercise is not dependent on the sole whim and caprice, or especially on the mere say-so, of the PNP, the PCUP, and the PCUP-accredited urban poor organization in the area,” my wife said, adding that a prior hearing is required, participated in by the affected individual, before anyone is to be classified a “professional squatter”.