QC urban poor group slams Ayala, PNoy
RESIDENTS of North Triangle staged a lightning protest at a mall owned by Ayala in Quezon City in reaction to a new threat of demolition of homes next week. The demolition will give way to Vertis North, a joint-venture project between the National Housing Authority and the Ayala Land, Inc. (ALI) within the proposed Quezon City Central Business District (QCCBD).
Tension built up as the rallyists belonging to September 23 Movement, Anakpawis Agham Chapter and Kadamay-North Triangle attempted to pass through the line of security guards who were quick to fence the mall’s main entrance. A 10-minute long commotion disturbed the early shoppers before the TriNoMa security managed to negotiate with the urban poor to leave the premise of the mall.
Before marching back to their community, the protesters also defaced with paint bombs the logo of TriNoMa and a big advertisement of Vertis North posted along North Avenue.
According to Ricky Indecio, vice chair of September 23 Movement, the residents of Sitio San Roque in North Triangle are opposed to the development of ALI’s Vertis North, an integrated business complex worth P65 billion which is to rise in the 29-hectare property right beside TriNoMa mall.
Authorities have already cleared last June the homes of some informal settlers living along EDSA in North Triangle to start the construction of the Vertis North. Bill boards announcing the said projects are also posted along EDSA and in North Avenue.
Demolition of homes, illegal
Last week, more residents along EDSA received notices of eviction from the office of Taddy Palma, head of the city’s Task Force for the Control and Prevention of Illegal Structures and Squatting (TF COPRISS) under the Mayor’s Office. They are given until September 30 to dismantle their own homes, and to relocate to Kaisglahan Village in Rodriguez (Montalban), Rizal. The residents said the demolition is illegal after the local government of Rodriguez has issued last September 17 an order prohibiting the relocation of more informal settlers from Quezon City and City of Manila to the flood-prone sites in Kasiglahan Village
The residents are staging a barricade on Octobers the 1st as the deadline set by TF COPRISS lapses by the end of the month. The same barricade in September 2010 had resulted to a 7-hour stand-off between the residents and demolition team and a heavy traffic jam along EDSA.
Repeating old mistakes
By its completion, the 340-hectare QCCBD will eradicate seven communities of urban poor settlers in the North and East Triangle, affecting no less than 25,000 families.
“We challenge Aquino and Ayala not to repeat their old mistakes for we are well-engaged in an all-out-war against their connivance to take away the land that we, without assistance from the government, have developed in years,” Indecio said.
San Roque residents said they had bitter experiences with the Ayala corporation. During the construction of the Ayala-owned mall a decade ago, some 3,000 families lost their homes and livelihood. “The promise of jobs and a change of life that the Ayalas had offered then to affected families never materialized, a proof that those big businesses only benefit the rich,” the urban poor leader added.
Thousands of families were also displaced from the 90-hectare property of the University of the Philippines Diliman, now the site of the Ayala Techno Hub, the group claimed.
The group also said half of the families who already went to the relocation sites in Rizal and Bulacan have come back to San Roque. “Their principal complaint is the lack of source of livelihood,” Indecio, who is also a vendor in the community market, said. “This speaks of the failure of the housing policies and programs of the government. If these continue, we expect no significant solution to what the government calls ‘the squatting problem,’” he said.
Residents vowed to hold protest actions at the Quezon City Hall, as well as at the ALI office in Makati in the days to come.
Paying back of gratitude
“We will make sure Aquino will pay for the consequence of his ‘paying back of gratitude’ to Ayala, if the same incident last September happened again,” Indecio said.
Aquino allegedly received substantial financial support from the corporation in the last presidential election campaign.
“It’s the poor who should benefit from the government’s ‘development projects.’ The president should think of ways on how to create jobs for millions of unemployed urban poor, and not ways on how to demolish our homes,” the San Roque leader said.