By RONALYN V. OLEA
MANILA – Residents of San Roque subvillage, Pag-asa, North Triangle in Quezon City held a protest actio in front of the UP-Ayala Land Techno Hub, Friday, vowing to fight the impending demolition of their community.
City administrator Victor Endriga announced recently that the National Housing Authority (NHA) will evict 9,000 households on Aug. 31 to give way to a P22-billion ($511 million) joint project between Ayala Land Inc. and the NHA. The project is part of the QC Business District.
Endriga said only 7,000 families are qualified for the relocation and housing program in San Jose del Monte, Bulacan and Rodriguez, Rizal.
In a statement, Estrelieta Bagasbas, national spokeswoman of Alyansa Kontra Demolisyon (AKD), and resident of San Roque said they are prepared to defend the community, and barricade EDSA as they did last September 23, 2010. That day, residents clashed with police and the NHA demolition team when they were being forced to leave the place. Scores were injured.
Members of AKD and supporters from neighboring villages and students from the University of the Philippines marched along Commonwealth Avenue. They threw mud at the marker of UP-Ayala Technohub to dramatize their protest.
By its completion, the 340-hectare QCCBD will eradicate seven communities of urban poor settlers, affecting no less than 25,000 families.
“We challenge Aquino and Ayala not to repeat their old mistakes for we are well-engaged in an all-out-war against their connivance to take away the land that we, without assistance from the government, have developed in years,” Bagasbas said.
??San Roque residents said they had bitter experiences with the Ayala corporation. During the construction of the Ayala-owned mall a decade ago, some 3,000 families lost their homes and livelihood. “The promise of jobs and a change of life that the Ayalas had offered then to affected families never materialized, a proof that those big businesses only benefit the rich,” the urban poor leader added.
??Thousands of families were also displaced from the 90-hectare property of the University of the Philippines Diliman, now the site of the Ayala Techno Hub, the group claimed.?
?By the end of August, NHA and the local government would have to pay a fine to Ayala if they fail to clear San Roque residents from the area.??
The group also said half of the families who went to the relocation sites in Rizal and Bulacan have come back to San Roque. “Their principal complaint is the lack of source of livelihood,” Bagasbas said.??“This speaks of the failure of the housing policies and programs of the government. If these continue, we expect no significant solution to what the government calls ‘the squatting problem,’” she said.
??Residents vowed to hold protest actions at the main office of NHA, as well as at the ALI office in Makati.??
“We will make sure Aquino will pay
for the consequence of his ‘paying back of gratitude’ to Ayala, if the same incident last September happened again,” Bagasbas said.
Aquino allegedly received substantial financial support from the corporation in last year’s presidential election campaign.
??“It’s the poor who should benefit from the government’s ‘development projects.’ The president should think of ways on how to create jobs for millions of unemployed urban poor, and not ways on how to demolish our homes,” the San Roque leader said.