By LYN V. RAMO
BAGUIO CITY – Without any place to stay right after the demolition of some 400 shanties, residents of the urban poor community decided to spend the night on the streets while others asked relatives and friends to accommodate them temporarily.?
There were a few who contemplated to set up a campout right at the premises of the Baguio city hall.
” Let us sleep right outside Domogan’s office,” a man in his 60’s blurted out in rage, referring to Baguio City Mayor Mauricio Domogan who ordered the demolition on Oct. 14 of the eight-hectare portion of the Irishville Subdivision.?
Among the 365 families affected is a young mother who just gave birth in August. With only her two-month old baby in tow, Adelina, not her real name, said she has nowhere to stay, much less store the housing materials and the few personal belongings she and her husband have accumulated in the past two years.?
While there are those who claim they have spent more than a hundred thousand to build the dwellings which were demolished, most are temporary shanties made of galvanized iron, wood and concrete hollow blocks.
On October 13, Domogan told the press that the two-day restraining order which Judge Cleto Villacorta issued in favor of the informal settlers lapsed and there was no reason to stall the demolition, if the court did not extend the temporary relief.?
According to Domogan, a group of prospective investors came to him in January this year and asked for advice.?
“I told them to organize, and determine who among them are interested in buying the lot. I advised them to collect and deposit an amount in the bank for the group to be able to negotiate with the National Power Corporation (NPC) employees who own the property, which is under a Community?Mortgage Program (CMP),” Domogan said during his weekly Ugnayang Panlungsod.
?A market stall owner among the Irishville residents revealed that a group again sought his assistance on October 13 but the mayor failed to meet their expectation for him to recall the demolition order.?
“Why should they build homes in a titled property?” Domogan told his constituents.?
He clarified that the property belongs to the NPC employees but has been bidded out to a private developer who has allegedly paid an initial P9 million ($208 thousand) as down-payment.?
While he reportedly advised the urban poor group not to build houses, he said, their option was to run after the winning bidder for negotiations.?
Where is your heart??
In their helplessness, many women became emotional. Corazon Florendo, a 58-year old storekeeper, fainted at the height of the demolition. She is reportedly hypertensive and has a heart condition that could not stand extreme emotions.?
“Ayan na ti asi yo?” said Dolores Bustamante, also 58, as she broke down in tears saying her earnings for decades were all gone in a few minutes, referring to the tearing down of her house, which costs some?P200,000 ($4,632) and three months to build.
On Tuesday, when the news of the impending demolition reached the village, an old woman looking after her eight-month old grandchild ran nervously and eventually dropped the baby, who fell to the ground. At the time of the actual demolition, a villager announced that the child was still critical at a public hospital and was asking people for P10-contribution to defray hospital expenses.?
” You have no heart!”another storekeeper by the roadside told the more than 100-member demolition crew, after they proceeded with tearing down her house amid her pleadings for her and her family to do the dismantling. ” Pay me P240,000 ($5,500) ,” she demanded.?
Amid the clutter, a fruit vendor from Mayoyao, Ifugao, tried to build a fire that would cook some food for lunch. “Life goes on,” she said as she kept fanning to put the charcoal aflame.?
Time was running out because they heard that after 6:00 p.m. that day, no one would be allowed to gather the building materials. The police officer said men in uniform would stay to secure the place from ?”looters.”
In the meantime, Adelina, Rita, Rosing, Dolores, Corazon and many others kept asking each other their options for the night, not minding that there were signs of a heavy rainfall later that October 14 evening.
?Meanwhile, the urban poor alliance, Organisasyon dagiti Nakurapay nga Umili ti Syudad (Ornus) criticized the CMP as anti-urban poor. It also assailed the proposed changes in the Baguio charter, which, it regards as not addressing the city’s urban poor population.?
Townsite application scheme (TSA) governs the acquisition of Baguio City lots. It awards a piece of alienable and disposable land to the highest bidder.?
In a related development, Domogan said the house committee on urban poor has approved the amendments to the city charter. Congressman Bernardo Vergara also said Congress has approved its version and is awaiting the Senate version for the change in the charter to take effect.? (Bulatlat.com)