Road block

Residents barricade road to protest impending demolition

TENSION sparked yesterday in Quezon Boulevard as residents blocked the south-bound portion of the national highway after authorities were set to demolish at least 180 houses.

A heavy vehicular traffic was observed along the busy highway as protestors put barricades, used tires, trisikads, appliances, among others, yesterday morning.

Residents of Barangay 26-C readied weapons like woods and steel pipes as they prepared to block any demolition attempt.

Residents dispersed from the major thoroughfare after the Muslim faithful held a prayer on the road asking for a peaceful solution. No demolition happened yesterday.

Randy Usman, the deputy mayor of the Maranao tribe, said they are asking the concerned authorities to put on hold the demolition to ease down the heated situation.

“Forego the demolition. Let’s talk first with the residents,” Usman asked the Davao City Police Office and the Task Force Davao.

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.

Affected residents of Salmonan said they have stayed in the area since 1953 when the area was still a marsh land.

Usman said affected residents include Christian and Muslim families.

“Let’s not destroy the place,” Usman said in vernacular as he appealed to the authorities. He said demolishing the area will give a bad image to President Rodrigo Duterte, who, just like most of the affected residents, is a Maranao.

He said Muslims and Christians harmoniously live peacefully in the area for the past 54 years

“They are united,” Usman said. “They don’t give a problem to the city government.”

Usman said this trouble only came when someone who is not even from the barangay claimed ownership of the contested property, which he said, is a public land.

He said the group of residents has petitioned for the land.

Sr. Insp. Maria Teresita Gaspan, DCPO spokesperson, said they are assessing the situation because the residents are “very emotional and they are blocking us.”

She said they are also hoping that no violence or hostile action will happen if ever the demolition will push through.

Gaspan said they will “apply maximum tolerance” as long that the lives of anyone will not be in danger.

“But if there is any that can cause danger to the civilian, then reasonable forces will implement,” she said. “Remember we are under martial law.”

The spokeswoman said she is hoping that residents will be submissive during the demolition.

Two companies of DCPO’s Civil Disturbance Management (CDM) were put on standby yesterday.

Task Force Davao commander Col Nolasco Mempin, who arrived in the area with his men yesterday to secure the area, said they will always be assisting the DCPO.

“Our troops are on standby if ever an augmentation (force) is needed,” Mempin said.


No relocation

Vice Mayor Bernard Al-ag, currently the acting mayor, said the court has already issued a writ of execution and has coordinated with the DCPO and the city government for the implementation of the demolition order.

“We, the city government, are here to will help with the smooth and peaceful implementation of the court order,” said Al-ag who takes care of the city’s day-to-day operation as Mayor Sara Duterte is in Japan for an official visit.

Al-ag also noted that nobody from the settlers availed the service of the lawyer who was tasked by the city mayor to assist those who are affected by the order.

“We are expecting resistance from the residents, but I am urging the residents (to comply with the court order),” Al-ag said.

If the settlers want to petition, he said they can file such in the court.

Early this month, a group of residents who organized themselves as the Quezon Boulevard Muslim-Christian Neighborhood Association in Salmonan appealed to Mayor Duterte to stop the demolition

But Mayor Duterte said she would not intervene in behalf of the settlers because the court already issued a writ of demolition.

“Given this, we will insist that all responsible agencies coordinate properly to ensure a smooth implementation of the writ,” she said.

The housing office also said the city government can’t provide relocation for the affected families.

Roy Ryan Rigor, chief of the City Planning and Development Office (CPDO)’s Housing and Homesite Division, said “we cannot give relocation to the Salmonan settlers as we do not know if they qualify for the relocation because they did not allow the city to conduct a census on them.”

Due to the absence of census, Rigor said they don’t have any data of the settlers, not even their exact number.