Friday, March 30, 2007

Fighting for Land

Last night, I celebrated the Eucharist with the people whose homes had been demolished. We had the mass in a temporary chapel amid the ruins of the houses that had been destroyed. Out of 140 families, 70 families remained and they live in makeshift home while the case is still being fought in the Court of Appeals. They have set up barricades, to prevent the demolition team from coming back. After the mass, we had agape. The people shared with one another the food that they brought.

For over 30 years, they have been occupying a piece of land owned by the government at the back of the Davao Medical Center. In spite of a memorandum of agreement, the director of the hospital wanted to drive them out and transfer to them to a distant relocation site. Half of the community resisted while the other half gave in. Those left behind were determined to fight for the land that they have be occupying for a long time. They are asking the government to include the land in the government urban housing program.

There are several Basic Ecclesial Communities in our parish that had successfully fought for their land. The first ones where in the Buhangin area several decades ago and the latest was in Spring Valley last year. These communities had to resort to both legal and extralegal means to defend their homes against the demolition teams. In the end the government acceded to their demands.

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