Residents of the Carmen Compound Excess Land Association were unexpectedly left without homes during this holiday season due to the sudden demolition of their residences starting on Wednesday, December 6.
They claimed there was no prior notice and a lack of assistance from their barangay before being forced out of their homes, leaving 46 households and approximately 80 families with nowhere to go.
The compound, owned by Felipe Carmen since the 1970s, has housed these residents for over a decade, with some living there since 2011.
A long-time resident stated that they initially obtained permission to live on the property, but complications arose when the property owner applied for a title through the Community Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO) of the environment department.
“Ang may-ari nito, matagal na dito nakatira, 1970’s pa. Kami nakatira na dito simula 2011, nakiusap lang kami sa kanya na titira kami dito. Pero sila mayroon na sila, nag-apply sa DENR CENRO for title ng property,” said resident Mary Jane Ramos.
Despite the residents’ dismay over the sudden demolition, they chose not to resist the authorities, believing it to be in their best interest.
“Sige lang. Wala na kaming magagawa. Na implement na yan, ang demolition, hindi na namin hahadlangan. Kasi kung hahadlangan namin yan, buhay namin ang ano diyan… lalo kaming mawawalan ng pagkakataon,” she said
Vilma Hidalgo, the sheriff responsible for enforcement, stated that the legal proceedings related to the land issue had concluded.
She claimed to have offered assistance to the residents, but it was declined.
“Pinuntahan na ito dito noon ng (City Social Welfare and Development Office (CSWDO). In-assist na ito sila, may mga nauna ng apat na grant ng tulong pero di naman pumunta sa city para mabiguan ng tulong. Inalok na sila ng tulong, sila ang ayaw na matulungan,” she said
“Dapat August 30 pa itong demolition, pero dahil lahat busy pa, and nag-election, lahat ng makakatulong dito sa amin naka focus pa sa ibang activity. Kahapon, December 6, sinimulan na namin kasi may period din yan kung hanggang kailan dapat matapos,” she added.
The sheriff expressed regret but emphasized that they cannot postpone the eviction further unless the residents appeal.
The Carmen Compound Excess Land Association, a home to residents for decades, is owned by the Hotel and Land Holdings Corporation.