February 25, 2010
For two straight days last Tuesday and yesterday, attempts to demolish a community in Parañaque were resisted by informal settlers fighting behind makeshift barricades. The labor party-list Partido ng Manggagawa (PM) and an urban poor group condemned as illegal the demolition of the Palasan community along Sucat Road in Paranaque as they vowed to continue with the series of protests against evictions.
“There is no order of demolition with a writ of execution for the Palasan community thus the demolition is illegal. The landgrabber claiming Palasan only has a writ of possession which falls short of the right to demolish so-called illegal structures,” explained Robert Labrador of the Alyansa ng Maralitang Pilipino, a coalition of urban poor organizations in Metro Manila, Central Luzon and Southern Tagalog.
The Palasan residents suspect that El Shaddai leader Mike Velarde is behind the demolition. In yesterday’s demolition, the police we seen talking to somebody in a car known to be Velarde’s. Palasan is right beside the Amvel subdivision of Velarde.
Renato Magtubo, PM chairperson, stated that “We demand a ban on demolitions, evictions and foreclosures for the duration of economic crisis. As long as the government cannot provide affordable and safe housing for the homeless then it has to refrain from depriving the poor not just of their homes but of their livelihoods by demolishing their communities.”
Minor injuries were sustained by residents who engaged in a pushing and pulling match with the demolition crew and Parañaque police. One resident was arrested but managed to escape with handcuffs still on him.
The ban on demolitions and the demand for affordable housing are part of the “Apat na Dapat” election platform of PM which is running for Congress via the party-list system. The other planks of “Apat na Dapat” platform are regular jobs, a living wage, and health care coverage for both employed and unemployed.
Thursday last week, PM members and AMP affiliates in Parañaque marched on the city hall in a violence marred protest in which a mediaman died. Another rally at the Parañaque city hall was held last Monday which ended in a dialogue with Mayor Florencio Bernabe. No agreement to the Palasan dispute and to the demolition ban was arrived at in the dialogue.
Around 100 families live in the Palasan community which consists of approximately one hectare of an untitled property whose owner died without heirs. Palasan residents were allowed by the previous owner to settle in the undeveloped lot but are now being evicted by what they allege as a dummy of Velarde.