Gov't bans demolitions during Christmas season

MANILA, Philippines – The Presidential Commission for the Urban Poor (PCUP) has suspended all demolition activities nationwide until January next year.

"We are issuing a moratorium on the conduct of all PCUP pre-demolition conferences around the country until January 2017," said PCUP Chairperson Terry Ridon in a statement on Wednesday, December 7.

Pre-demolition conferences are mandatory before any eviction can take place. Representatives of national government agencies, local officials, landowners, and affected families are required to hold talks.

The PCUP also called on other agencies and courts with pending demolition proceedings to delay them until the new year comes.

Ridon said the Christmas season should be a time for parties involved to amicably settle their differences.

"It is our hope that no family should suffer the indignity of forcible demolition proceedings as we enter the Christmas season," he said.

Ridon, a former lawmaker, also said the PCUP will not issue clearances for demolition if there are no existing relocation sites for affected families, or if there is no financial aid worth 60 days of a family's minimum wage.

President Rodrigo Duterte earlier promised informal settlers there would be no demolitions until relocation sites are provided for them.

Cabinet Secretary Leoncio Evasco Jr is now in charge of the relocation projects for informal settlers as the new chairperson of the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC), following Vice President Leni Robredo's resignation last December 5. –

Patty Pasion

Patty leads the Rappler+ membership program. She used to be a Rappler multimedia reporter who covered politics, labor, and development issues of vulnerable sectors.