Barricade up

‘Men in black’ trigger distress at demo site; roads barricaded

NERVES frayed as residents occupied one lane of Quezon Boulevard again after “men in black” reportedly trespassed the demolition site yesterday afternoon.

 Women, children, and men barricaded the road a little before 5 p.m. and stopped southbound traffic as they waited for the demolition team to arrive. Personnel from the Sta. Ana Police Precinct, located just a few meters from ground zero, were immediately deployed to keep the peace.

Reportedly, some of the affected families tore down the store of the owner of the property although this has yet to be verified by the police.

Maranao deputy mayor Randy Usman told TIMES that the residents got paranoid after unknown men were seen loitering in the area.

The IRR by the Department of Interior and Local Government and the Housing Land Use and Regulatory Board on the enforcement of the Urban Development and Housing Act of 1992 states that the demolition must be done not earlier than 30 days and not later than 90 days after the notice has been issued.

The demolition itself must not be done on weekends and legal holidays, and will be limited between 8 a.m. and 3 p.m., according to the IRR.

Just a few hours before the barricade, Usman had reported that the tensions have eased after the dialogue between City Hall and the owner of the property.

In a phone interview yesterday, deputy mayor Randy Usman said that residents are on edge as they wait for the demolition team to arrive again.

“They are ready,” he said. “If there is a demolition team, they will also put up the barricades again to close the road.”

“The City Mayor’s Office and the plaintiff already talked so they will have to decide on what to do,” he said. “It’s now up to the city mayor to intervene and find ways on how to better deal with this (problem).”

An order was reportedly issued on April 16 by the Regional Trial Court under Judge Evalyn Morales for the demolition of at least 180 houses occupying a 3,350-square-meter lot.

A certain Datu Bahjin Marcos Mahadali, said to be from Zamboanga City, claimed ownership of the prime property, currently occupied by 280 families, located at the corner of Quezon Boulevard and Lizada Street.

Usman said the families approached Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio for help. “Whatever she decides, the residents in boulevard will follow because they are law-abiding citizens,” he added.

In a separate interview, Sr. Insp. Maria Teresita Gaspan, spokesperson of Davao City Police Office (DCPO) said that the negotiation is still ongoing.

On Tuesday, two companies of the Civil Disturbance Management of the DCPO and PNP personnel from Sta. Ana Police Precinct were deployed on the scene.

The ground commander was Chief Insp. Nolan Raquid, the chief of Sta. Ana precinct.

On Tuesday in Quezon Boulevard, residents blocked the southbound portion of the national highway after authorities were set to demolish at least 180 houses. They used tires, appliances, bicycles and wooden barricades to block the road. Residents also carried weapons like wooden sticks and steel pipes against the demolition team.

The Presidential Commission on the Urban Poor lamented the absence of a pre-demolition conference among the representatives of the residential areas in Brgy. 26C Salmonan and the supposed owner of the property.

PCUP Commissioner Norman Baloro, in an interview with the TIMES, said the situation would not escalate into potential violence had there been a dialogue between the parties concerned.

Complicating matters is the refusal of some residents to be part of a census tagging under the City Housing Office of the City Government, which would identify possible recipients of government aid.

These aid include possible relocation sites or the negotiation of affordable prices should there be a need for residents to shell out funds to pay the property owner.

Baloro said President Rodrigo Duterte was personally invested in the area, since the place hosts a tight-knit community of Muslim settlers who have lived in the city peacefully for decades.

“There should be a dialogue,” Baloro said.

The PCUP is still looking for ways to conduct a dialogue with the residents, Baloro said, through the local office here.