Alegre Diones, 71, is the first-ever newspaper dealer in what is now known as Navotas City. She started selling newspapers from a stall in front of the Kaunlaran High School, which is near her home in Dagat-Dagatan, in 1981, when she was still an official of the National Housing Authority (NHA). Her business had been running everyday from 1981 – that is, until last March 11, when the Office of the City Engineer started to have her stall blocked off with large corrugated iron sheets.
BY ALEXANDER MARTIN REMOLLINO
Alegre Diones, 71, is the first-ever newspaper dealer in what is now known as Navotas City. She started selling newspapers from a stall in front of the Kaunlaran High School, which is near her home in Dagat-Dagatan, in 1981, when she was still an official of the National Housing Authority (NHA).
More than 60 sub-dealers and vendors all over Navotas are dependent on her business for their livelihood.
The NHA had allowed her to occupy the stall as part of its livelihood program for Dagat-Datan residents.
“I wasn’t really into selling newspapers,” Diones told Bulatlat in an interview. “It was my sister who got me into this business. She sent me newspapers to sell, saying those would augment my income, and I had no choice but to sell them.”
The income from selling newspapers, she said, helped a lot in sending her five children through school. Selling newspapers has been her only source of income since her retirement from the NHA in 1993, after more than 20 years of service, when her health took a turn for the worse and two doctors advised her to retire already.
Since getting into the newspaper-dealing business, she had assiduously met all municipal (later city) requirements, like license and clearance requirements.
In 2002, the NHA advised her to apply for a renewal of her lease, explaining that she was qualified for it under Republic Act No. 7279, or the Urban Development and Housing Act of 1992, authored by then Sen. Joey Lina. She was, however, unable to regularly follow up the processing of her papers due to her medical infirmities.
When she was at last able to follow it up after a few years, she was told that the Area Manager she had filed her papers with – a Ms. Amy Baul – was no longer connected with the NHA and even her papers were nowhere to be found.
That development notwithstanding, her business had been running everyday from 1981 – that is, until last March 11, when the Office of the City Engineer started to have her stall blocked off with large corrugated iron sheets.
Before that, in early February, City Engineer Miguel Serrano, Jr. had sent her a letter instructing her to vacate her stall within seven days. This, Serrano said, was to give way to the construction of additional classrooms for Kaunlaran High School.
“Why did they advise me to renew my lease if they were eventually to just drive me away?” she said.
She was being offered P3,000 ($63.05 at the February 2009 average exchange rate of $1:P47.58) in exchange for vacating the stall. She refused. “When I had the stall renovated in 2002, I spent P6,000 ($116.28 at that year’s average exchange rate of $1:P51.60), so why would I accept that amount?” she said.
In her response to Serrano, she requested the city engineer to take cognizance of Sec. 28 of RA 7279, which provides for the removal and transfer of structures.
In the said provision, it is stated that:
Eviction or demolition as a practice shall be discouraged. Eviction or demolition, however, may be allowed under the following situations:
(a) When persons or entities occupy danger areas such as esteros, railroad tracks, garbage dumps, riverbanks, shorelines, waterways, and other public places such as sidewalks, roads, parks, and playgrounds;