MANILA, Philippines - Department of Interior and Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo suspended yesterday all planned demolitions of slum areas in Metro Manila pending a dialogue with all concerned parties.
He also warned illegal settlers that they could be arrested if they throw human waste at members of the demolition team and law enforcers.
Robredo called on concerned government agencies, including the Philippine National Police (PNP) and local government units (LGUs), to review all related policies before implementing any demolition order.
“The demolitions should be suspended while the related policies and guidelines on this subject are unclear,” he said.
Robredo said that after the review, there should be a “pre-demolition meeting” involving representatives of the PNP, LGUs, National Housing Authority, those affected by the demolition and other stakeholders prior to the execution of any court order.
The meeting would “prevent violence, such as what transpired at the Silverio Compound in Parañaque City” Monday, he said.
He said the violent demolition at the Silverio Compound, wherein one person was killed and at least 40 others were wounded, should not have happened if those concerned submitted themselves to a meeting beforehand. “The court order indicated that only 61 families are covered by the demolition but it seems all 5,000 families in the compound were misled to believe their homes would be demolished,” Robredo said.
Robredo said Mayor Florencio Bernabe, Rep. Edwin Olivarez and Anakpawis party-list Rep. Rafael Mariano ignored his call for a dialogue.
“I wish that once a meeting is called, all concerned would attend,” he said.
Robredo said a plan by illegal settlers at the Tucuma Compound in Barangay Merville, also in Parañaque, to throw human waste at demolition crewmembers and law enforcers would aggravate the situation.
He said those who would resort to such “dirty tricks” would be “arrested because their intent is unlawful.”
Community leader Ramil Asturias said they had prepared bags of feces, mixed with mud and dirty water, they would use to drive away the demolition team if the scheduled demolition had pushed through Thursday.
Asturias said they designated feces collectors after receiving an eviction notice on March 12.
The collectors would go around the neighborhood asking for feces from about 600 houses (1,000 families). After that, the feces would be packed in clear cellophane bags mixed with mud and dirty water. A water drum near the gate of the compound served as a receptacle for the bags. - By Cecille Suerte Felipe