A perennial problem of the urban poor has been the lack of security of tenure in their houses and the land on which these are erected. Even as the right to housing and the right against forced evictions and demolitions are asserted in international treaties and enshrined in our Constitution, these are not properly safeguarded.
Stories of demolitions, both documented and otherwise, still abound; thus, our efforts are geared towards involving the urban poor sector in local urban governance.
Litigation support remains an important component in efforts to advocate for the urban poor’s rights. SALIGAN has handled cases that highly impact on upholding the sector’s rights. Precedent-setting cases are put on the forefront given the dearth of jurisprudence favorable to the urban poor. We aim for a more human rights-based approach in litigation, with an intense focus on the implementation of the Urban Development and Housing Act.
Recently, SALIGAN filed a prohibition case (with a restraining order) questioning the Metro Manila Development Authority’s (MMDA) resolutions and resulting actions on river easements in urban areas.
The program covers civil, criminal and administrative cases, in partnership with various urban poor community associations and other non-government organizations.
Legal Literacy and Paralegal Formation
We continue to conduct education activities on the urban poor’s rights and the laws affecting them. These are necessitated by the expansion of the areas covered by SALIGAN, the growing number of our partner organizations, and the progression of law and jurisprudence on the urban poor.
The program includes both the training of new sets of paralegals and follow-up activities, such as legal clinics and meetings. It is implemented with our current partners, the Kapisanan ng mga Maralitang Obrero (KAMAO), a Metro Manila-based federation of laborers, and the Muntinlupa Development Authority (MDF), a group specializing in micro-finance and organizing urban poor communities in the city.
Policy Advocacy and Reform
The policy-making process at the legislative bodies of the national and local governments is an important venue where advocates for the urban poor’s rights can secure gains with a significant and lasting impact. Given the thrust of proper urban governance, working with both is an opportunity to push for the creation of more urban poor-centered legislation. Among the bills SALIGAN espouses is a law mandating all cities and municipalities to establish their own Local Housing Boards, and a National Land Use Act that seeks to resolve conflicting land uses. In addition, the program also addresses issues on gender and housing.