“We have no problem with the road project as long as it is legal and no corruption is involved. We only ask the local government, as well as the national government, to let us stay here. We will make do with what is left for us here.”
By ANNE MARXZE D. UMIL
MANILA – About 60 families of K-9, West Kamias Village in Quezon City are facing the threat of demolition over an allegedly “anomalous” road project of the local village council. Residents of the K-9 Barangay West Kamias Neighborhood Association have barricaded their community to defend it. The demolition order was dated June 17, Tuesday, but no demolition team came to evict them.
Nelly Cuntapay, 43, said people from their community have been preparing for the demolition and they are ready to defend their right. “Since Monday night people have been taking turns here in the barricade so we can fight once the demolition team arrives. We have packed our things. We are ready to fight,” Cuntapay, resident of the village for more than two decades, said. She added that a patrol car of the village council has been roaming near their village also last Monday night.
Rey Eva, president of the Barangay West Kamias Neighborhood Association said the notice of demolition was given to them on June 2. They were only given 10 days to voluntarily leave the community. He said their village council wanted to evict them without due process. “The law says that the notice of demolition should be given 30 days prior to its effectivity,” Eva said in an interview with Bulatlat.com.
Section 28 of the Urban Development Housing Act reads, “In the execution of eviction or demolition orders involving poor and homeless families, the following shall be done by involved government agencies: Notice upon the affected families at least thirty (30) days prior to the date of eviction or demolition.”
‘Anomalous’ road project?
Eva said it was in July 2013 when the village council of West Kamias passed a resolution to demolish the houses of residents living in K-9. The resolution identified K-9 as a danger zone. The community is situated beside a waterway.
Residents who have been living in K-9 for 40 years do not buy it. “Flood waters during typhoon Ondoy quickly subsided not like in other places that were submerged for days,” said Leilanie Soquiat, 22. She said she has been living in K-9 since she was four years old.
But the neighborhood association found out that the supposed danger zone is not the only reason why they are being evicted from K-9. Eva said the village council suddenly proposed a .23 kilometer or 230 kilometer road project worth P7.9 billion ($ 180 million). K-9 is a dead end street with no entry or exit point where vehicles can pass through other places.
Eva said the project will not only unjustly sweep their small community but will also cost millions of pesos worth of tax payers money in a potentially corruption-ridden project. “This is not the first time the village council of West Kamias was involved in corrupt practices. Since 2012, it has yet to answer the finding of the Commission on Audit ordering them to report the P5 million ($113,939) it spent.”
Rogelio Cuntapay, 54, a resident of K-9 for 45 years, accused their former barangay captain Emily T. Algabre of allegedly amassing money from the kaban ng bayan or the village treasury under her three terms as barangay captain.
“We were just shocked that suddenly her house now has a second floor. Some say she also bought the lot beside her house,” Rogelio told Bulatlat.com in an interview.
Rogelio said Algabre allegedly included her family members, helpers, among others in the list of beneficiaries to be relocated to Montalban, Rizal. Officers of the neighborhood association were able to get a copy of the list. They found out that six persons who availed of the housing project in Montalban are related to Algabre. Some members of the council also availed of housing even if they are not from K-9.
“It was supposed to be for the people affected in K-9 and not from any other village,” Rogelio said.
They already filed corruption charges against Algabre before the Office of the Ombudsman.
Problems with relocation site
Rose Quintinita, 30, availed of the relocation offered to them in 2013. However, after a few months of relocating, heavy monsoon rains struck Metro Manila and nearby cities including Montalban.
“All our things were suddenly washed out (by flood),” Quintinita said. She also added that life is more difficult in Montalban. “There is no electricity. The village only uses a generator to supply electricity to the whole village. We pay P10 ($.23) for the generator and then we still pay for our monthly electricity. Water is also expensive, it costs P40 ($.91) per cubic meter.” She also said that transportation alone eats up the big chunk of their budget.
Quintinita returned to K-9 after the monsoon. “We will fight this time. I don’t want to be relocated in far flung areas like Montalban. We suffer even more.”
Dennis Mahinay, 36, has five children. He said finding a source of livelihood would be difficult if they are to be relocated in Montalban. He is driving a tricycle for a living.
“We have no problem with the road project as long as it is legal and no corruption is involved. We only ask the local government, as well as the national government, to let us stay here. We will make do with what is left for us here,” Rogelio said. According to a website, K-9 has a total measurement of .28 kilometer, if the road project is .23 kilometers, Rogelio said, let the .05 kilometers or 50 meters be entitled to them. “This land is owned by the National Housing Authority anyway.”
“We are challenging the QC local government to investigate their Liberal Party mates running our baranggay council. The K-9, West Kamias Village Neighborhood Association will assert their right to due process and at the same time condemn the impending demolition of our community,” Eva said.