Our Constitution entrenches both civil and political rights and social and economic rights. All the rights in our Bill of Rights are inter-related and mutually supporting. There can be no doubt that human dignity, freedom and equality, the foundational values of our society, are denied those who have no food, clothing or shelter. Affording socioeconomic rights to all people therefore enables them to enjoy the other rights enshrined in [the Bill of Rights].
The realisation of these rights is also key to the advancement of race and gender equality and the evolution of a society in which men and women are equally able to achieve their full potential.
The right of access to adequate housing cannot be seen in isolation. There is a close relationship between it and the other socio-economic rights. Socio-economic rights must all be read together in the setting of the Constitution as a whole. The State is obliged to take positive action to meet the needs of those living in extreme conditions of poverty, homelessness or intolerable housing. Their interconnectedness needs to be taken into account in interpreting the socio-economic rights, and, in particular, in determining whether the State has met its obligations in terms of them.
Rights also need to be interpreted and understood in their social and historical context. The right to be free from unfair discrimination, for example, must be understood against our legacy of deep social inequality.
Sadly, this case is not a Philippine Case. This is the case of Government vs. Grootboom Case No. CCT 11/2000, decided by the Constitutional Court of South Africa.
For a country that is relatively young compared to us when it comes to democracy, they are more progressive when it comes to the recognition of socio-economic rights as equal to civil-political rights.
Here, we are still stuck with the feudal paradigm of property. The better is a balanced one– where all rights complement and inter-relate to one another. There should not be a hierarchy of rights but completeness of rights.
Wish this decision was rendered here.