DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 7 May) – The military’s armored personnel carrier was deployed during the first day of the three-day demolition at Barangay 23-C Salmonan, Quezon Boulevard, with around 1,500 forces from the police and Task Force Davao.
Davao City Police Office (DCPO) Director Alexander Tagum told reporters in an interview on Monday that the authorities maintained maximum tolerance during the operation and described Day 1 as “peaceful and orderly.”
But Kadamay-Southern Mindanao Region said in a statement that the deployment of a military tank, Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT), and snipers were unnecessary and totally wrong.
“To deploy tank, SWAT, and snipers [against] the unarmed urban poor residents tell us how this city treats the poor. Anong kalaban-laban sa mga Salmonan residents sa mga tangke at bala (The Salmonan residents are helpless against tank and bullets),” the statement read.
It added that the way authorities handled the situation showed “what the Martial Law really is, and showed the might of the State trampling over the rights and dignity of the poor who assert the right to defend their homes, their right to due process.”
As early as 4 a.m., Tagum said “maximum number of security personnel” were already deployed to “saturate the general perimeter, outer perimeter, and inner perimeter” of the area that would be demolished to thwart possible resistance from the illegal settlers.
“Pinalibutan na natin sila, tulad ng sinabi ko sa kanila (We surrounded them and as I told them), we are here to ensure the security and safety of everyone regardless if you are a member of demolition team or among the informal settlers of this area,” he added.
Authorities also thwarted the escalation of tension after arresting three individuals who attempted to fight the police but Tagum said they were just placed under protective custody and no charges will be filed against them.
“We understand them because they have just lost their homes. We will exercise maximum tolerance,” he added.
Newly-appointed Urban Poor Commissioner Norman B. Baloro said they, along with the Commission on Human Rights, would continue to monitor the demolition activity, until Wednesday for “inhumane demolition and eviction” and would come up with policy recommendations.
But Baloro said there were no observed violations on the first day and emphasized that the police and military did not join the demolition team.
The first day of the demolition caused a heavy traffic build-up in some parts of downtown Davao, including Ramon Magsaysay Avenue and some parts in Agdao, as authorities closed on portion of Quezon Boulevard starting from Magsaysay Park until Phoenix Fuels in Piapi from 8 a.m. until 3 p.m.
The City Transport and Traffic Management Office (CTTMO) did not issue any traffic advisory or a re-routing scheme for the motorists. Vehicles were re-routed to D. Ponce Street, Guerrero Street, and Jacinto Street. Several other vehicles converged at R. Magsaysay Avenue while other auxiliary roads became congested. (Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews)