Sampaloc residents decry ‘unjust’ demolition

Demolition team dismantles houses in Maisan, Sampaloc, Manila. (Photo courtesy of Sanama)
Residents of Maisan in Sampaloc, Manila find the demolition unjust as negotiation for their relocation is ongoing with the city government of Manila.

By TERESA EVANGELISTA
Bulatlat.com

MANILA – The Maisan community in Sampaloc, Manila has been in a series of demolition this November affecting 184 families and arresting two of its residents. They continue to hold their ground as the threat of demolition continues. They find the demolition unjust as negotiation for their relocation is ongoing with the city government of Manila.

On November 10, about 100 personnel from the Department of Public Services (DPS), Hawkers Manila, and Manila Police District went to Geronimo Street in Barangay 432 in Sampaloc, Manila where the Maisan community is located. The demolition team closed both ends of the street and then started to dismantle 165 houses with sledgehammer.

Residents could not get out of the streets with their belongings including their pedicabs for their livelihood. They decided to make noises so the demolition team will allow them to pass through and they succeeded. But still, 15 pedicabs were confiscated among other belongings.

“We are still here in Geronimo Street. We are working on how we can have a dialogue with the city mayor,” Rosalie Escorel, 47, leader of Samahan ng mga Naninirahan sa Maisan na Nagkakaisa (Sanama), told Bulatlat in Filipino.

According to Escorel, the demolition started when the principal of Ramon Magsaysay High School requested for clearing because it is where the school’s exit is.

“We coordinated with the school principal and said that we will clean and decorate with plans the school exit… and paint the wall as well,” Escorel told Bulatlat.

While cleaning and painting the wall with the barangay officials on November 12, the demolition team arrived. Escorel together with other Sanama members, immediately rushed to save their belongings.

A 15-year-old boy was allegedly choked and punched by the demolition team when he tried to stop them from taking his doves and their cages. His father rushed for his child and the DPS held him like he is being arrested. The demolition team’s truck was filled with debris from the last demolition including three more pedicabs.

Another clearing operation happened again on November 17 that led to the arrest of Wendell Escala and Benjamin Sevillano. They remain at Smart Police Station in Manila City Hall.

Ongoing negotiation

Early in October, Escorel had an opportunity to talk with Manila City Mayor Honey Lacuna during a barangay assembly to ask for help. They have stated their willingness to be relocated outside Metro Manila. She said that during the term of Manila Mayor Isko Moreno, they were offered to relocate in Trece Martires, Cavite to which they agreed.

“She asked us if we really prefer relocation because it is much better to have in-city relocation,” said Escorel.

Escorel added that Lacuna told them to look for a lot in Manila City for their relocation and Maisan residents will be the priority.

Escorel said they are working on their relocation with the intercity agency including the Department of Interior and Local Government and National Housing Authority. During the term of Moreno, they are just showing their documents to the demolition team and they will simply leave.

But according to Escorel, their documents were just ignored during the last series of demolition.

Escorel wrote to Lacuna about their situation last October. But they have not received any reply from the city government.

Last November 19, Escorel sent another letter tor Lacuna, seeking dialogue to discuss about the demolition and their current situation. (RVO)

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