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【Support OccupyBulacan! Taiwanese NGOs Petition Duterte to Stop Forced Eviction】
On March 20, several NGOs gathered at Manila Economic and Cultural Office (MECO) to advocate for the OccupyBulacan! Movement organized by the KADAMAY in the Philippines and condemn the Philippines government for threatening to evict the movement participants by brutal force. The campaigning NGOs included Migrant Taiwan, Taiwan Committee for Philippine Concerns, Taiwan Association for Human Rights, Taiwan Alliance of Anti-forced Eviction, Taiwan International Workers' Association, Serve the People Association, and Covenants Watch. They shown the public letter sent by KADAMAY and urge the international society to recognize the gravity of the present situation.
Since August, 2016, KADAMAY (Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap) has petitioned the Philippines government to provide alternative housing for tens of thousands of slum households who had been evicted from their home. However, the government has kept refusing their demand even after five rounds of negotiation, while at the same time leaving vacant of 50 thousands units of dormitory planned for the military and police. The evicted slum dwellers were moved to private lands where employments were unaccessible and the rent, water and electricity were unaffordable. Therefore, KADAMAY organized the OccupyBulacan! Movement on March 8 as a last resort to demand the government to confront the plight situation faced by the evictees. However, Duterte not only had no solution but set an food embargo and threatened to evict the occupiers by extreme force.
Yi-Fu Hsu, the executive member of Taiwan Alliance of Anti-forced Eviction (TAAFE) indicates that not only in Taiwan but other countries like Hong Kong and Italy, NGOs have expressed their support for the occupy movement, showing that the international society are highly concerned with the housing rights issue. Duterte should immediately fulfilling its human rights duty and provide the dwellers with adequate alternative housing.
Housing rights campaigner Yen-Tung Lin from Taiwan Association for Human Rights (TAHR) indicates that although the Taiwanese society is relatively unfamiliar with squatting movements, the 318 movement in 2014 in which participants occupy the Legislative Yuan should be a reminder. As the 318 movement, #OccupyBulacan! is a movement representing the last resort of the civil society confronting the imperious government. The Two Covenants of the UN make it clear that the right to housing is one of the basic human rights, and that the government has the duty to provide its citizens with adequate housing. However, the Duterte government not only fails to carry it out, but to shamelessly threaten the poor with extreme force.
Representatives from Migrant Taiwan, Taiwan Committee for Philippine Concerns, Taiwan International Workers' Association, Serve the People Association, and Covenants Watch who have been advocating for the rights of migrant workers and Philippine human rights situations also pointed out that Duterte’s “War on drugs” which has caused thousands of deaths only worsen the living condition of the poor, and this event is just another example of the government’s ignorance of these disadvantaged people. They also point out that, according to KADAMAY, the government has adopted the neoliberal policy to outsource its funds of informal settlements amounting to 50 billion peso to private companies to provide expensive housing that is impractical in solving the poor’s predicament.