By ANTHONY IAN CRUZ
Nov. 24, 2007
THE Geneva based Center on Housing Rights and Evictions (COHRE) recently gave the 2007 Housing Rights Protector Award to the Naga City local government led by Mayor Jesse Robredo for its Kaantabay sa Kauswagan (Partners in Development) program.
COHRE commended Robredo’s government for assisting more than 6,000 families in obtaining titles to their land and in safeguarding them from the threat of forced eviction. It also cited Robredo’s program for improving the living conditions of 27 urban poor communities by providing and upgrading infrastructure.
The Housing Rights Protector award is presented annually to a government or other institutions “demonstrating an exceptional commitment to the protection and fulfillment of housing rights.”
Robredo received the award in Geneva.
COHRE deputy director Jean du Plessis said that Robredo’s program “clearly demonstrates that the human right to adequate housing can indeed be made a reality if the political will exists.”
COHRE noted that the 6,046 households that have obtained legal titles to their residences through the Kaantabay sa Kauswagan program already cover 20 percent of Naga City’s population. It cited the program’s planned expansion to add 2,717 households or another 9 percent to the list of beneficiaries.
Aside from aiding households obtain legal title for their land, the program also helped 27 urban poor communities in Naga City to obtain better living conditions through the provision of basic services and infrastructure improvement, said COHRE.
“COHRE praises the proactive initiatives undertaken by the Government of Naga City to effectively guarantee the protection and progressive realization of the human right to adequate housing. Its efforts provide a powerful example that governments can implement practical policies to realize housing rights and that these are integral to fighting poverty,” said Du Plessis.
Robredo won the Ramon Magsaysay Award in 2000 and has been elected to the post of Naga City mayor several times.
The Kaantabay sa Kauswagan was also similarly cited by the Ramon Magsaysay Awards Foundation when it feted Robredo.
COHRE also handed out “worst housing rights violator” awards to Burma, Slovakia, the city of government of Beijing and the Beijing Olympic Games Organizing Committee.