Supplemental Text

PHILIPPINE LAWS ON HOUSING AND HUMAN SETTLEMENTS

I. PHILIPPINE LAWS ON HOUSING

A. Urban Development and Housing Act (RA 7279)

(Date of Effectivity: 29 March 1992)

1. Constitutional Basis:

Art. 13. SOCIAL JUSTICE AND HUMAN RIGHTS

Sec. 9. The State shall, by law and for the common good undertake, in cooperation with the private sector, a continuing program of urban land reform and housing which will make available at affordable cost decent housing and basic services to underpriviledged and homeless citizens in urban centers and resettlement areas. It shall also promote adequate employment opportunities to citizens. In the implementation of such programs the State shall respect the rights of small property owners.

Sec. 10. Urban or rural poor dwellers shall not be evicted nor their dwellings demolished, except in accordance with law and in a just and humane manner.

No resettlement of urban or rural dwellers shall be undertaken without adequate consultation with them and the communities where they are to be relocated.

2. Objectives:

a. Make available to underprivileged and homeless citizens decent housing at affordable cost;

b. Provide for rational use and development of urban land;

c. Regulate and direct urban growth and expansion towards a dispersed urban net and more balanced urban-rural interdependence;

d. provide for an equitable land tenure system that shall guarantee security of tenure to program beneficiaries but shall respect the rights of small property owners and ensure the payment of just compensation;

e. Encourage more effective people's participation in the urban development process; and

f. Improve the capability of local government units in undertaking urban development and housing programs and projects.

3. Beneficiaries:

> must be male or female Filipino underprivileged and homeless citizen (individual/families in urban/urbanizable areas whose income/combined household income is within poverty threshold and who do not own housing facilities and those who do not enjoy security of tenure)

> must not own real property in urban or rural areas

> not a professional squatter or not a member of squatting syndicates

4. Salient Provisions:

National Urban Development and Housing Framework

UDHA Socialized Housing Program

The housing program of the law provides for:

a) Beneficiary listing (coming up with a master list of beneficiaries within one year from the effectivity of the law)

a) Land inventory (within the territorial jurisdiction of LGUs)

a) Identification of socialized housing sites

a) Acquisition of identified socialized housing sites

a) Disposition of lands for socialized housing

UDHA Resettlement Program

Balanced Housing Program

Developers of proposed subdivision projects are required to develop an area for socialized housing equivalent to at least 20% of the total subdivision area or total subdivision cost with the option tocomply instead through any of the following:

development of a new settlement; slum upgrading; joint-venture projects with LGUs or any housing agency; or, participation in the community mortgage program

Eviction and Demolition (Rules and Procedure)

- The law discourages demolition as a practice. Eviction or demolition may be allowed only when:

a. persons/entities occupy danger areas

b. persons/entities occupy public places

c. place occupied is a gov't. infrastructure project site

d. there is a court order for eviction or demolition

e. construction falls under the category: new illegal structure (construction after March 29, 1992)

f. structure belongs to a professional squatter or a member of a squatting syndicate

- In the execution of eviction or demolition involving underprivileged and homeless citizens, the following are mandatory: (Sec. 28, UDHA, Implementing Rules and Regulations)

* 30-day notice

* heavy equipment shall not be used except for concrete structures

Moratorium on Eviction and Demolition

- There shall be a moratorium on the eviction of all program beneficiaries and on the demolition of their houses or dwelling units for a period of 3 years from the effectivity of the law (March 29, 1992 - March 29, 1995), this while the program components, i.e., the Housing Program, Resettlement Program, Balanced Housing Program are being accomplished or otherwise set in place.

B. Comprehensive and Integrated Shelter Finance Act (RA 7835)

Increasing and regularizing yearly appropriation of the major components of the national shelter program. It consists the following major component programs:

  1. Resettlement Program
  2. Medium-Rise Public and Private Housing
  3. Community Mortgage Program
  4. Cost-Recoverable Programs
  5. Local Housing Program

Resettlement Program (Total Appropriation in 5 Years: 5.2B)

Medium-Rise Private and Public Housing (Total Appropriation in 5 Years: 3B)

Community Mortgage Program (Total Appropriation in 5 Years: 12.78B)

Gov't. agencies, LGUs, NGOs and POs as originators

Community Associations

Landowner

Cost Recoverable Programs (Total Appropriation in 5 Years: 2.542 B)

Local Housing Program (Total Appropriation in 5 Years: 3B)

C. PD 772 : ANTI-SQUATTING LAW (Criminal Law)

* committed by any person who succeeds in occupying or possessing the real property of another against the latter's will through any of the following means:

> force

> intimidation

> threat

> taking advantage of the absence or tolerance of the landowner for residential, commercial or any other purposes

D. EJECTMENT LAWS (Civil Law)

* Forcible Entry: committed by any person who deprives another of the possession of any land or building by any of the following acts:

> force

> intimidation

> stealth

> threat or,

> strategy

* Unlawful Detainer: committed by any person who has an expired or terminated right to hold possession by virtue of contract, express or implied unlawfully withholding possession from landlord/vendor/vender or other

person legally entitled to possession

WHY THESE LAWS ARE OPPRESSIVE TO THE POOR:

Lack of security of abode (house/land tenure) makes the poor vulnerable to ejectment and anti-squatting laws. In particular, PD 772 which criminalizes squatting and prosecutes people who are more the victims of government inadequacy than criminals.

(Source: Input shared by Atty. Caloy Ollado, Coordinator for Urban Poor of SALIGAN, Inc.,
during the 1996 Young Professionals' Summer Camp on Social Housing held in Cebu City)


II. INTERNATIONAL LAWS ON HOUSING

Introduction

The International Bill of Rights which consists of 3 Instruments, namely: a) The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948); b) The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (1966); and c) The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (1966). This bill is at the core of the UN action in the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms.

These instruments define human rights and fundamental freedoms. They form the foundation of many UN human rights conventions,declarations and sets of rules and principles. Covenants are international legal instruments. When members to the UN become parties to a Covenant or other conventions by ratifying or acceding to them, accept major obligations grounded in law.

State parties voluntarily bind themselves to bring national legislation, policy and practice into line with their existing international legal obligations. By ratifying these, States are accountable to their citizens, other State parties to the same instruments and to the international community by solemnly commiting themselves to respect and ensure the rights and freedom found in this documents. Many of these international human rights treaties also require States parties to report regularly on the steps they have taken to guarantee the realizations of these rights, and also the progress they have done towards this end.

Right to Adequate Housing

The right to adequate housing is one of the economic, social and cultural rights to have gained increasing attention and promotion from the United Nations Centre for Human Settlement (Habitat). It strarted with the implementation of the Vancouver Declaration on Human Settlements issued in 1976, followed by the proclamation of the International Year of Shelter for the Homeless (1987) and the adoption of the Global Strategy for Shelter to the Year 2000, and by the United Nations General assembly in 1988.

Adequate housing is universally viewed as one of the basic human needs but the UN Centre for Human Settlements estimates that throughout the world over 1 B people live in inadequate housing and with an excess of 100 M people living in conditions of homelessness. Added to this, access to potable water and adequate sanitation facilities, which are important basic needs associated with housing, are inadequate. Based on the 1990

Decade Assessment report released by the World Health Organization, 1.2 B people in developing countries do not have access to drinking water and 1.8 B people live without access to adequate sanitation. These situations only reveal the need of a global struggle to fulfill the right to adequate housing.

The International Year of Shelter for the Homeless (1987) facilitated the raising of public awareness about the housing and related problemsprevalent throughout the world. As a follow-up, the Global Strategy for Shelter to the Year 2000 has propelled to push the housing issues forward and had resulted in housing rights being placed prominently on the human rights agenda of the United Nations.

The right to adequate housing forms a cornerstone of the Global Shelter Strategy:

"The right to adequate housing is universally recognized by the community of nations... All nations without exception, have some form of obligation in the shelter sector, as exemplified by their creation of housing ministries or housing agencies, by their allocation of funds to the housing sector, and by their policies, programmes and projects... All citizens of all States, poor as they may be, have a right to expect their Governments to be concerned about their shelter needs, and to accept a fundamental obligation to protect and improve houses and neighborhoods, rather than damage or destroy them."

Within the Global Strategy, adequate housing is defined as:

adequate privacy, adequate space, adequate security, adequate lighting and ventilation, adequate basic infrastructure and adequate location with regard to work and basic facilities, all at a reasonable cost.

Legal Formulation of Housing Rights

With the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948, the right to housing joined the body of international, universally applicable and accepted human rights law. Adequate housing is the right of every child, woman and man — everywhere as phrased in many human rights instruments, namely:

Government Obligations in the Operationalization of Housing Rights

In relation to the operationalization of the right to adequate housing, the legal obligations of governments concerning the right to adequate housing consist of: a) duties found in Art.2.1 of the Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (Each State Party to the present Covenant undertakes the steps, individually and through international assistance and cooperation, especially economic and technical to the maximum of its available resources, with a view to achieving progressively the full realization of the rights recognized in the present Covenant by all appropriate means, including particularly the adoption of legislative measures); and, b) the more specific obligations to recognize, respect, protect and fulfil this and other rights.

Towards the Justiciability of Housing Rights

The Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights has affirmed that the legal principle or provision of domestic legal remedies are applicable in the following areas: a) legal appeals aimed at preventing planned evictions or demolitions through the issuance of court-ordered injunctions; b) legal procedures seeking compensation following an illegal eviction; c) complaints againstillegal actions carried out or supported by landlords (private or public) in relation to rent levels, dwelling maintenance and racial or other forms of discrimination;d) allegations of any form of discrimination in the allocation and availability of access to housing; e) complaints against landlords concerning unhealthy or inadequate housing conditions; and, class action suits in situations involving significantly increased levels of homelessness.

What to Do When There is a Violation of Housing Rights

The Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (4th session) noted that, "the right to housing can be subject to violation and as such, acts and omissions constituting violations will need to be explored by the Committee, especially in the context of evictions". The Committee stated that tolerance by Governments of forced evictions on their territory constituted a violation of the norms of the Covenant. On the other hand, the Commission on Human Rights, in its resolution 1993/77 affirmed that, " the practice of forced eviction constitutes a gross violation of human rights, in particular, the right to adequate housing.

So far, the UN has only considered violation of housing rights in the context of forced evictions either conducted or tolerated by the State. Likewise, the Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights has not yet create formal mechanisms by which individuals could submit complaints alleging non-compliance by their Governments with their housing rights.

Since there is no formal mechanisms to lodge complaints with regards to housing rights violation, affected persons and groups can work with NGOs which are active at the annual sessions of the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and can draw the attention of the Committee to practices and legislation of State Parties that are inconsistent with the obligations of the Covenant.

Likewise, the complaint mechanisms under the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (Fact Sheet Nos. 7, 12), the the Optional Protocol to the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (Fact Sheet Nos.7,15), the Convention on the Rights of the Child (revised Fact Sheet No. 10), the Economic and Social Council resolution 1503 procedure and the enforcement mechanisms of the ILO could be used by persons alleging that they are victims of certain types of housing rights violations.

Furthermore, specific issues and cases relating to the right to adequate housing can be raised by people or entities in various UN Forums such as the Sub-Commission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities, the Commission on Human Rights (either directly or through its country-oriented Special Rapporteurs or Working Groups, if appropriate), the Economic and Social Council and the General Assembly.

Role of Non-Governmental Organizations, Groups and Individuals

Both international and local NGOs can be key actors in the promotion and enforcement of the right to adequate housing. At the local and national level, NGOs can carry out various initiatives to promote the realization of the right to adequate housing through:

For individuals, groups and other NGOs without consultative status with the UN can forward their concerns to the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and other UN bodies dealing with housing rights issues through NGOs that have consultative status, as these entities have rights of participation in the UN system.

Individuals or groups can also send information about violations by any State party of any rights found in the Covenant directly to the Secretary of the Committee at the Centre for Human Rights as these communications are distributed to Committee members.

(Source: People's Decade of Human Rights Education document)