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Aquino, Beatrice C.

Constitutional Law 2 1-A

Urban Land Reform and Housing

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

Undertaking a continuing urban land reform and housing program

1) Participation of the private sector

This section recognizes the magnitude of the problem of being an ill-


housed nation with a high percentage of our urban population estimated at five
million squatters living in subhuman conditions as described by Commissioner
Nieva, and therefore considers it a matter that should receive the attention not
only of the government but also the larger society (Bernas, S.J. 2009). Hence,
urban land reform and housing are to be undertaken “in cooperation with the
private sector” to make at affordable cost decent housing and basic services to
underprivileged and homeless citizens in urban centers and resettlement areas (De
Leon & De Leon, Jr., 2012).

2) Urban land reform program

Providing each poor family a small lot it can call its own on which to
make a home is the primary aim of urban land reform (De Leon & De Leon, Jr.,
2012). Since what is envisioned is social housing (i.e. it addresses those who
cannot afford even low cost housing and therefore need some form of subsidy),
what is needed is not just regulation of “urban land use” but urban land “reform.”
Sr. Tan observed that the use of the word “reform” indicates that there has been
an unjust utilization of land which therefore needs reformation. Necessarily,
therefore, police power would have to come into place and where necessary,
together with eminent domain (Bernas, S.J. 2009).
3) Housing program

As applied in metropolitan areas, especially Metropolitan Manila, social


justice is a command to devise, among other social measures, ways and means for
the elimination of slums, shambles, shacks and house that are dilapidated,
overcrowded, and without ventilation and light and sanitation facilities and for the
construction in their place of decent dwelling for the poor and destitute (Guido vs.
Rural Progress Administration, 84 Phil. 847 [1949]). Thus, the government has to
embark on a massive construction of low-cost houses which may be rented at low
rentals, or sold to the low and middle income earners at easy long-term and low-
interest rate; or the development of viable human settlements where deserving
citizens may enjoy basic services and reasonable facilities for residence, sources
of livelihood and other amenities needed for comfortable living (Bernas, S.J.
2009).

Section 10, Article XIII. 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.

Dealing with “squatters”

Squatters principally refer to the phrase “urban or rural poor dwellers.” The
provision’s intent is to prevent the recurrence of past abuses when law enforcement
agents would move in, bulldoze dwellings, and even inflict violence on persons.
However, evictions are not prohibited. The Constitution commands that if there must be
evictions, it must be conducted “in accordance with law and in a just and humane
manner” (Bernas, S.J. 2009).

Meanwhile, the second paragraph commands that every relocation process must
be preceded by consultation with the dwellers to be relocated and also with the
communities where they are to be relocated (Bernas, S.J. 2009). In People vs. Leachon, it
means that “the person to be evicted be accorded due process or an opportunity to
controvert the allegation that his or her occupation or possession of the property involved
is unlawful or against the will of the landowner; that should the illegal or unlawful
occupation be proven, the occupant be sufficiently notified before actual eviction or
demolition is done; and there be no loss of lives, physical injuries or unnecessary loss of
or damage to properties.”
The law on eviction and demolition is R.A. No. 7279 (Urban Development and
Housing Act)

Sec. 28. Eviction and Demolition. — Eviction or demolition as a practice shall be


discouraged. Eviction or demolition, however, may be allowed under the
following situations:

(a) When persons or entities occupy danger areas such as esteros, railroad tracks,
garbage dumps, riverbanks, shorelines, waterways, and other public places
such as sidewalks, roads, parks, and playgrounds;
(b) When government infrastructure projects with available funding are about to
be implemented; or
(c) When there is a court order for eviction and demolition.

In the execution of eviction or demolition orders involving underprivileged and


homeless citizens, the following shall be mandatory:

1) Notice upon the effected persons or entities at least thirty (30) days prior
to the date of eviction or demolition;
2) Adequate consultations on the matter of settlement with the duly
designated representatives of the families to be resettled and the affected
communities in the areas where they are to be relocated;
3) Presence of local government officials or their representatives during
eviction or demolition;
4) Proper identification of all persons taking part in the demolition;
5) Execution of eviction or demolition only during regular office hours from
Mondays to Fridays and during good weather, unless the affected families
consent otherwise;
6) No use of heavy equipment for demolition except for structures that are
permanent and of concrete materials;
7) Proper uniforms for members of the Philippine National Police who shall
occupy the first line of law enforcement and observe proper disturbance
control procedures; and
8) Adequate relocation, whether temporary or permanent: Provided,
however, that in cases of eviction and demolition pursuant to a court order
involving underprivileged and homeless citizens, relocation shall be
undertaken by the local government unit concerned and the National
Housing Authority with the assistance of other government agencies
within forty-five (45) days from service of notice of final judgment by the
court, after which period the said order shall be executed: Provided,
further, That should relocation not be possible within the said period,
financial assistance in the amount equivalent to the prevailing minimum
daily wage multiplied by sixty (60) days shall be extended to the affected
families by the local government unit concerned.

This Department of the Interior and Local Government and the Housing and
Urban Development Coordinating Council shall jointly promulgate the necessary
rules and regulations to carry out the above provision.

Sec. 29. Resettlement. — Within two (2) years from the effectivity of this Act, the
local government units, in coordination with the National Housing Authority,
shall implement the relocation and resettlement of persons living in danger areas
such as esteros, railroad tracks, garbage dumps, riverbanks, shorelines,
waterways, and in other public places as sidewalks, roads, parks, and
playgrounds. The local government unit, in coordination with the National
Housing Authority, shall provide relocation or resettlement sites with basic
services and facilities and access to employment and livelihood opportunities
sufficient to meet the basic needs of the affected families.

People vs. Leachon


[G.R. No. 108725-26. September 25, 1998]

Facts:
On August 7, 1990, pursuant to the Resolution of the Municipal Trial Court of San Jose,
Occidental Mindoro, the Provincial Prosecutor of Occidental Mindoro filed two separate
informations for violation of P. D. 772, Anti-Squatting Law, against Noli Hablo,
Edmundo Mapindan and Diego Escala, before the Regional Trial Court of Occidental
Mindoro presided over by respondent judge.

The cases proceeded to trial. But on August 18, 1992, almost a year after the prosecution
had rested, the respondent Judge issued an Order dismissing the said cases motu proprio
on the ground of lack of jurisdiction.

Petitioners appealed and on December 24, 1992, the Court of Appeals came out with a
decision reversing the appealed Order of dismissal, ordering continuation of trial of
subject criminal cases.

On January 19, 1993, instead of conducting the trial, as directed by the Court of Appeals,
the respondent judge dismissed the cases motu proprio, once more, opining that P.D. 772
is rendered obsolete and deemed repealed by Sections 9 and 10, Article XIII of the 1987
Constitution, which provide that 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.

Issue: Whether or not the validity of the demolition or eviction hinges in the existence of
a resettlement area designated or earmarked by the government?

Held:
Under the Constitution, what makes the eviction and demolition of urban or rural poor
dwellers illegal or unlawful is when the same are not done in accordance with law and in
a just and humane manner.

However, respondent Judge erred in predicating the validity or legality of eviction on the
existence of a resettlement plan and area. The constitutional requirement that the eviction
and demolition be in accordance with law and conducted in a just and humane manner
does not mean that the validity or legality of the demolition or eviction is hinged on the
existence of a resettlement area designated or earmarked by the government.

What is meant by in accordance with law and just and humane manner is that the person
to be evicted be accorded due process or an opportunity to controvert the allegation that
his or her occupation or possession of the property involved is unlawful or against the
will of the landowner; that should the illegal or unlawful occupation be proven, the
occupant be sufficiently notified before actual eviction or demolition is done; and that
there be no loss of lives, physical injuries or unnecessary loss of or damage to properties.

Precisely, the enactment of an anti-squatting law affords the alleged squatters the
opportunity to present their case before a competent court where their rights will be
amply protected and due process strictly observed. By filing the proper informations in
court, complainants have complied with the first requirement of due process, that is, the
opportunity for the accused to be heard and present evidence to show that his or her
occupation or possession of the property is not against the will or without the consent of
the landowner and is not tainted by the use of force, intimidation, threat or by the taking
advantage of the absence of or tolerance by the landowners.
Sources:

Bernas, J., S.J. (2009). The 1987 Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines A
Commentary. Rex.

De Leon, & De Leon, Jr. (2012). Philippine Constitutional Law (Vol. 2). Rex.

Urban Development and Housing Act. (n.d.). Retrieved April 12, 2016, from
http://hlurb.gov.ph/wp-content/uploads/laws-issuances/mandates/ra_7279.pdf.