Some 30 establishments occupying a nine hectare property owned by Palawan National School (PNS) along H. Mendoza Street and Rizal Avenue, Barangay Manggahan, have been demolished by the city anti-squatting squad.
Alex Hermoso, chief of the anti-squatting, said their demolition activity started on August 19 after receiving a copy of the order issued by the Council Against Squatting Syndicate and Professional Squatters (CASSAPS).
Hermoso said CASSAPS issued notices to vacate in 2018 to the establishment owners but they refused to leave area, particularly the “no build zone”.
He said it is also part of the obstruction clearing ordered by President Rodrigo Duterte.
“May natanggap tayo na order last week lang, natural iipatupad natin ‘yon. Alinsunod doon ay idi-dismantle natin ang mga structures, unang-una ang mga nakahambalang dito sa sidewalk. Parte rin ito ng clearing of obstruction na iniutos ni president. Ito ngang area ay no build zone, kini-claim din ito ng PNS kung saan nanalo sila sa korte,” he said.
He added that some of the illegal vendors refused to leave, claiming they are paying monthly rental to the owner of the land.
But the administration of PNS denied it is receiving payments from the occupants.
“Wala silang binabayaran dito. Malamang may taong nagpapakilala na sila ang may-ari at ‘yon ang nabubuhay, ‘yan ang totoo. Ngayon dapat ma-clear natin hanggang doon sa EastWest kasi around nine hectares ang kini-claim ng PNS kung saan kasama doon ang mga illegal establishments,” Hermoso added.
He also said they will not be providing resettlement assistance.
“Walang resettlement sa ganitong sitwasyon na pinasok lang nila ang area ng iba. Wala silang proof of ownership. Ang binibigyan lang ng relocation ang mga dinaanan ng disaster na nakatira sa coastal area,” he said.
Charlita Aborot, owner of Charlie sandals and bag, is asking for assistance from the city government regarding the removal of their livelihood.
For 22 years, Aborot had occupied a space in the land.
“Sana matulungan lang kami na makapagsimula ulit kasi ito lang naman ang hanapbuhay namin. Matagal na rin kami dito may negosyo, maliliit pa ang mga anak ko nandito na sila. ‘Yon lang naman ang gusto namin,” she said.
She said some of them voluntarily demolished their structures but complained they were treated harshly.
“Ang iniiyak namin kanina dito ay nag-demolish sila na walang galing sa PALECO (Palawan Electric Cooperative) para mag-cut ng kuryente, walang kapitan, walang pulis, hinayaan nila kaming nakaganito. Alam naman namin ang batas kaya dapat inayos naman nila, hindi naman namin inaangkin ang lupa, aalis naman kami d’yan. Sana lang talaga ay matulungan kami,” Aborot said.
In a separate interview, PNS principal IV Eduardo Santos explained that the illegal establishments started occupying their property in the 80’s.
He said they were allowed because they had no use for the land then. However, when they already wanted to reclaim the property, the vendors no longer wanted to leave.
Santos said they need the land now for expansion.
“Matagal na sila dyan sa area na ‘yan, bandang 1980’s nandyan na sila at hindi naman pinapaalis ng school kasi nga parang tulong na rin. Actually, kaso na talaga ‘yan noon pa. We filed a case against them at kinasuhan din nila ang PNS pero na-dismiss ang kaso nila kasi wala naman talaga silang right dyan at wala silang documents na sa kanila ‘yan,” he said.
In 2017, the Supreme Court issued a decision favorable to the school, but the vendors filed a temporary restraining order (TRO), postponing their removal from the area for around 12 years.
“Its been a long time na nand’yan sila kaya lang kailangan na rin namin ang lupa kaya gumawa kami ng paraan para maibalik ‘yan at matayuan na ng mga buildings. Previous administration ay nag-file na rin ng pag-claim dyan kaya lang nagkaroon lang delay pero ngayon talagang kailangan na,” he said.