Homelessness rises as another community is torn down by demolition.
MANILA — The local government of Pasig City has demolished some 1,000 homes in the East Bank of the Manggahan Floodway, Sta. Lucia village in Pasig City today, Oct. 18.
The Philippine National Police and security forces from the local government carried out the demolition, as they outnumbered and overwhelmed residents who have been resisting their dislocation. Gloria “Ka Bea” Arellano, Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap (Kadamay) chairperson said the demolition was “like a war zone.”
In August, more than 40 residents including minors were arrested as they resisted the attempted demolition by the local government. The group Balikwas-Kadamay in Pasig stood their ground and put up a barricade to protect their houses.
Residents said the police and local enforcers were already at the area by 6:00 a.m., and brought along with them a fire truck.
Kadamay said only a week ago, representatives of the local government from the Rizal side of the Floodway had signed a covenant with the National Anti-Poverty Commission to allow residents to remain in the area. However, Pasig Mayor Robert Eusebio was not present during the event.
The local government had offered residents to be relocated to Calauan in Laguna province, south of Metro Manila.
Report by Manila Today said that residents, particularly those who did not avail of the relocation and financial assistance were surprised that their houses were being demolished as they were told that only those who volunteer to self-demolish will be evicted from the area.
Residents refuse to accept offers of relocation because the site will be far from where their livelihood is located. They also said that the houses in relocation sites are made of substandard materials, and pose more hazard than their current location. Some residents have been living in the area for decades and have asked President Duterte to award the land to them.
Various groups denounced the demolition, as they belied the local government’s claim that the area is a “danger zone.” The administration of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo issued Presidential Proclamation No. 1160 reserving 20 parcels of land in the same area for the construction of medium-rise, socialized and low-cost housing project. The area was also categorized as commercial land under Arroyo.
“Kadamay stands firm in fighting the demolition of the Manggahan Floodway in Pasig. We stand for the right to stay put, and for genuine on-site development which includes granting access to social services, recognition of housing rights, livable wages and the creation of jobs not the creation of homelessness,” the group said in a statement.
Meanwhile on Oct. 17, Kadamay said police and members of the Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) intimidated the residents by conducting door-to-door visits warning them not to join the barricades the following day.
Some of the local leaders of Kadamay were also brought to the precinct for interrogation. “Their IDs were confiscated and were warned that joining barricades would lead to further prosecution,” the group said in a statement.
“Kadamay vehemently condemns the authorities for these vile attacks and the demolition operations pushed by the Pasig government,” it added.
Gabriela Women’s Party also expressed support for the Floodway residents’ call to be awarded the lot they occupy. GWP said the dislocation of the residents is a “great injustice.”
“Due to high amortization fees, lack of social services, and livelihood, the relocation site is a death sentence to the residents of Manggahan Floodway,” said the GWP in a statement.