Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Land dispute in Parañaque escalates as community burned to ground

Press Release
March 2, 2010

The land dispute at the depressed community of Palasan continues to escalate as the remaining houses were burned to the ground for the second time yesterday. More than 20 residents and their supporters were also arrested yesterday for resisting the demolition and detained in the Parañaque police precinct along Coastal Road in Brgy. La Huerta. The labor party-list Partido ng Manggagawa slammed the demolition as not just illegal but inhuman.

For the third time in two weeks, leaders of the Palasan Neighborhood Association together with scores of supporters among the Parañaque affiliates of Alyansa ng Maralitang Pilipino (AMP)—a network of urban poor organizations in Metro Manila, Southern Tagalog and Central Luzon—and the labor party-list Partido ng Manggagawa (PM) marched at 9:00 a.m. on the city hall of Paranaque to seek a dialogue with Mayor Florencio “Jun” Bernabe. Early this morning protesters picketed the police precinct were the Palasan residents and their supporters were detained.

“The demolition is illegal because there no order of demolition has been issued by any court. Moreover the eviction is very inhuman. They did not just use heavy equipment but also put our houses on fire. Finally they arrested us like terrorists. But fighting for rights and defending our homes is not a crime,” explained Rodrigo Bautista, president of the Palasan Neighborhood Association.

The Palasan residents criticize even the issuance of writ of possession since the ownership of the land is still pending at the Land Registration Authority as LRA Case No. 97-0111. Some 50 people remain at the disputed land despite repeated attempts at demolition that started last February 11.

Robert Labrador of AMP, which is supporting the Palasan residents, added, “We ask Mayor Florencio Bernabe to mediate and communicate with Mr. Mike Velarde for a peaceful and negotiated resolution to the land dispute.” AMP condemned El Shaddai leader Mike Velarde, whose Amvel subdivision is right beside Palasan, as the mastermind behind the illegal and inhuman demolition.

The Palasan residents revealed that the demolition team was backed by the Parañaque SWAT and the PNP. Since the urban poor settlers kept their ground, private security guards of the Manila Shooter agency together with the police burned the remaining houses to forcibly remove the legitimate residents of the disputed land.

Renato Magtubo, PM Chairperson stated that, “This demolition is in utter violation of human rights. The government must engage in honest negotiation and pursue decent relocation. Demolition and militarization are not the answer to land disputes.”

The AMP provided legal assistance to the Palasan Neighborhood Association as they trooped to the Ombudsman yesterday to file a complaint government officials implicated in the illegal demolition.

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