280 families face demolition in Davao City

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 18 April) – Two hundred eighty Christian and Muslim families living as informal settlers in Quezon Boulevard Salmonan, Barangay 26-C, Davao City face demolition as a Tausug datu has claimed ownership of the 3,000-square meter property where their houses stand.

Residents of Salmonan, Barangay 26-C in Davao City keep watch outside an old mosque to prevent a demolition team from destroying their houses on Tuesday, 17 April 2018. MindaNews photo

On Tuesday, residents blocked a demolition team but the threat of losing their homes persisted as the claimant, Datu Bahajin Marcos Mahadali, is planning to apply for another permit Wednesday, Aleem Mahmod Mala L. Adilao, regional chairman of Ulama League of the Philippines, said.

Adilao said they are asking President Rodrigo Duterte to fulfill his promise that there will be no demolition under his watch without proper relocation.

He said only the President and his daughter Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio can help prevent their eviction from their community where most of the affected families have lived for 65 years.

He said no proper relocation has been offered to the residents but added he is unsure if the residents would settle for it.

He said affected families might accept a relocation offer if they would be transferred close to where their livelihoods are.

“I think it is difficult if they would stay, it’s better to give them relocation. I cannot assure if they would accept it but if they would be given area within the second district, they might just settle for it,” he said.

Lisa Usman, a Maranao sidewalk vendor, chose not to go to her spot at Agdao Public Market on Tuesday. She feared there would be nothing to come home to if she left their house.

The 42-year old mother of three joined other residents in a barricade that started since Tuesday last week to prevent the demolition team from destroying their houses.

“Sa Allah na lang me mosalig kay dili man me pasagdan sa Allah (We will leave everything up to Allah because Allah will not forget us),” she said in an interview.

Usman grew up in the place while several other residents claimed their parents have lived there since 1953. She appealed to the President and the mayor to help stop the planned eviction.

Residents said Mahadali only showed up in 2011 to claim ownership of the property. They claimed that Mahadali’s transfer certificate of title only covers a 1,003-square meter property in Barrio Tugbok, Lianga and not the 3,000-square meter property where they live.

Adilao said they do not intend to create trouble. “We only want to live here peacefully. We are the pioneers here,” he said.

He said they are demanding due process as the first settlers who built up what used to be a swampy area several years ago.

In their letter to the mayor, the Quezon-Boulevard Muslim-Christian Neighborhood Association said residents helped fill the swamp with soil, transforming it into a community where their houses stand today.

“Taliwala sa kalisud nga among nasinati matag adlaw, kami naningkamot nga mabuhi ang among pamilya pinaagi sa pagtinda ug mga banig, lamas, DVD ug uban pa (Despite the daily struggles that we have experienced, we strive to sustain our families by selling mats, spices, DVD, among others),” it said.

Adilau said they are holding on to the President’s promise that there will be no demolition under his watch without proper relocation.

He added they have yet to hear a response from Malacañang that promised residents to have the alleged title of Mahadali reviewed.

The barricaded portion of the Quezon Boulevard was reopened to vehicles at 3:30 p.m. Tuesday. (Antonio L. Colina IV/MindaNews)