MANILA - Authorities on Tuesday started tearing down the houses of illegal settlers along Luzon Avenue in Barangay Culiat, even after Quezon City Rep. Jose Christopher "Kit" Belmonte tried to stop the demolition.
Two earlier attempts to demolish 80 houses in the 2,000-square meter property of the Picache family failed after residents fought off policemen.
Some of the 100 families in the area again refused to leave their homes on Tuesday. Sheriff Bienvenido Reyes Jr. of the Quezon City Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 98 arrived there at around 7 a.m.
Belmonte tried to stop the demolition, saying that the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) is still preparing relocation plans for the residents.
Belmonte, who is seeking re-election, argued that the illegal settlement is located in a danger zone, thus qualifying its residents for the government's relocation program.
Sheriff Reyes countered that the RTC has not received any memo from the DILG regarding its relocation plans.
He added that residents earlier agreed to "self-demolish" their homes by March 28.
Reyes also maintained that they will follow court orders for the demolition, despite Belmonte's resistance.
"Basta itutuloy ko kasi unang-una nga, [may] court order. TRO (temporary restraining order) ang makakapigil nito," he said.
Residents eventually knocked down their own homes to avoid possible clashes with the police.
The first demolition attempt on March 9 saw policemen using tear gas on informal settlers. Seven children and a woman were rushed to the hospital after inhaling the gas.
WATCH: Informal settlers fight police to prevent demolition
Violence likewise erupted when residents mounted a barricade of tricycles to stop a demolition attempt on the following day. -- With reports from Dennis Datu, dzMM; Kevin Manalo, ABS-CBN News