“The government prioritizes private business ventures instead of appropriating lands for affordable housing projects.”
By JANESS ANN J. ELLAO
MANILA – At least 300 families were left homeless as a government demolition team tore down their homes to give way to the construction of a condominium building in Calaanan compound, barangay (village) 86, Zone 8, Caloocan City today, May 26.
“Just like other urban poor threatened by demolition, the Calaanan compound and its residents are victims of government policy. The government prioritizes private business ventures instead of appropriating lands for affordable housing projects,” said Francis Tio, 62, a former village official and a long-time resident of Calaanan compound.
“It also chooses to sell public lands to big local and foreign companies instead of providing affordable if not free housing units for the less privileged,” he said.
Members of the demolition team arrived at the community at around 5 a.m., stirring residents to quickly put up barricades to defend their homes. Violence erupted as the demolition team advanced toward the community, and residents tried to stop them by hurling stones and bottles.
At least two residents were reportedly arrested while a police man sustained an injury from an improvised gun (sumpak). Tio told Bulatlat.com that the two were caught when the police began to arbitrarily arrest residents.
Tio said the Caloocan Regional Trial Court Branch 51 ordered the demolition of only 50 houses. But at around 1 p.m., Tio estimated that nearly 100 houses have been totally destroyed.
Tio said the demolition was a result of the betrayal of at least two public officials, referring to their village chief Bernard Yuson and Caloocan City Dist. 2 Rep. Egay Erice.
“Two local officials who were supposed to protect our rights as their constituents betrayed our fight. They have sold not only their principle but also their dignity in return for what Yao promised to them. Their action was despicable,” Tio said.
The area is being claimed by businessman Alfredo Yao.
Tio told Bulatlat.com that residents were offered P60,000, instead of a relocation site. Of the 500 families, some 100 residents agreed to accept the money, Tio said. Most of them were close to the village chief, he added.
Most residents have been in the community for 30 to 50 years. Their livelihood include selling balut or dried goods, with a daily income that would run between P120 to P300. Others work as carpenters or are employed in minimum-wage jobs.
The urban poor leader said their fight is not yet over. Residents are set to camp out along EDSA-Monumento to show how they have been victimized by a government that prioritizes profit over the rights of the people.