YEARENDER: 2011, a precarious life for the urban poor

In 2011, rights group Karapatan – National Capital Region has monitored at least one case of demolition a month, which more or less translates to at least three families losing their homes everyday due to demolition.


MANILA — The violence that accompanied the demolition attempts in urban poor communities Corazon de Jesus in San Juan City and Sitio San Roque in Quezon City hit the headlines resulting in a temporary halt to the demolition. Yet, unknown to many, more and more communities are facing displacement from their homes and livelihood. Urban poor and progressive organizations monitored an average of one community confronting demolition every month for 2011.

“We receive many requests for assistance from organizations of the urban poor. They want to guard and barricade their communities from threats of demolition. As long as these calls keep coming, it only shows how this administration is neglecting the urban poor and ignoring their right to housing,” Carlito Badion, vice president of Kalipunan ng Damayang mahihirap and co-convenor of Alyansa Kontra Demolisyon, told

Badion said President Benigno Aquino III is a failure for poor Filipinos because of the absence of a comprehensive plan to address their concerns. It has instead, he added, prioritized big private firms and its vested self-interest, leaving urban poor dwellers displaced from their homes.

Public Private Partnership monster that demolishes the homes of urban poor dwellers(Photo by Janess Ann J. Ellao /

In 2011, rights group Karapatan – National Capital Region has monitored at least one case of demolition a month, which more or less translates to at least three families losing their homes everyday due to demolition.

First demolition of 2011

The year 2011 began with demolition operations targeting Barangay Corazon de Jesus in San Juan City on January 25. The displacement of more than a hundred families would supposedly give way to the project of the local government to build a United States-White House-like city hall. The residents responded by barricading the community to defend their homes from the demolition team.

The tension ran high when the police moved toward the barricade. Around mid-morning, a canister of teargas was fired at a portion of the community. The police doused the residents with water canons. The residents, on the other hand, fought back using slingshots, stones, bottles and plastic bags filled with human feces, which they call “tae bombs or t-bombs.”

Eleven residents were arrested for resisting demolition and about 40 were injured. An infant was reported to have developed an infection after being suffocated by fumes from the teargas.

In a press conference, the Ejercito family, a political clan that included former president Joseph Estrada and the current congressman representing the city, blamed the residents for the violence that erupted during the demolition. The Ejercitos pointed to the presence of “non-resident activists,” pertaining to progressive groups who arrived in the community to offer their assistance. They also accused progressive groups of bringing the grenades and canisters of teargas with them.

“The poor will fight with or without the support of activists when their life and livelihood are at stake,” Kabataan Rep. Raymond Palatino said in his blog. He added that there were also violent demolitions in 2010 in Taguig and in New Manila, Quezon City even if they were not supported by activists.

If there is anyone who should be held liable for the violence that happened, Palatino said, it is the Ejercito family, who, in the first place, denied the residents of their homes.

The demolition of homes in Corazon de Jesus became ominous of the plight of the urban poor under the current dispensation.

One demolition per month

Communities barricade their homes from demolitions (Photo by Janess Ann J. Ellao /

From February to March, residents of Barangay San Roque in Navotas were displaced due to “clearing operations.” About 466 families were affected. On January 29, a fire razed the community. The local government, instead of sending relief goods, sent staff from the National Housing Authority to offer the residents a relocation site.

Their struggle left one of their leaders, Antonio Homo, killed on March 16. He was the first urban poor leader who became a victim of extrajudicial killings this year.

The plight of the urban dwellers of Barangay San Roque worsened when demolitions took place in May. The entire community was finally and unfortunately demolished from November 8 to 28, forcing most residents to live in evacuation areas.

Fernando Sevilla, president of Nagkakaisang Samahan ng Kadiwa, likened the situation of the evacuees to the period of martial law because they were not allowed to talk and form groups or discuss their concerns with progressive organizations such as women’s group Gabriela.

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  1. Globalization proved nothing well for our citizentry because more million people are plunged into poverty.

    Here in the metropolis, projects needed one ingriedient: demolition. Onli In The Pilipins

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