19 hurt in demolition drive around Baclaran mosque

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 18 2009 11:15 PM | Updated as of Nov 19 2009 07:15 AM

MANILA - A bloody confrontation erupted on Wednesday between police and residents living near a mosque in Baclaran.

More than a dozen were injured in the demolition of the houses illegal settlers meant to pave the way for the construction of a public transport terminal.

Two years ago illegal settlers near the Rajah Sulayman Grand Mosque in Baclaran already had confronted demolition teams who evicted them from their homes.

Although their houses were demolished, the illegal settlers went back to the area and rebuilt shanties around the mosque.

On Wednesday, the two sides clashed again.

The residents used bottles, stones and anything they could use, to turn back the demolition team. Just like the last time, the women were in the frontlines.

Some begged the demolition team not to destroy their homes. One woman, however, was aggressive.

“Kahit mamatay kami lahat di kami alis dito,” said Carmina Dimaporo, one of the residents in the area.

Riot police, backing the demolition team, were able to push back the residents.

Gun shots

The male residents then pelted authorities with huge stones. After which the demolition team retaliated.

Soon after, gun shots were fired.

Policemen said, they were forced to fire their weapons, after they saw some residents wielding improvised guns.

A man was seen to have been hit in the foot apparently by a bullet. He was immediately taken to a hospital for treatment.

The residents claim, 3 of them died in the riot, including a 7-year-old boy.

10 residents were hurt, while 9 members of the demolition team were injured.

Chief Superintendent Jaime Calungsod, Southern Police District chief, however denied there were fatalities in the confrontation.

He also said policemen only defended themselves.

Calungsod said however they will investigate the allegation. He said representatives of the Commission on Human Rights were also present including members of media.

“Stay put”

The informal settlers however protested the actions of the demolition team and police.

“Wala ba silang mga puso? Mga manhid ba sila?” protested Dimaporo.

“Allah lang ang bahala sa amin kung sa amin kami pwede mapadpad. Masakit po, masakit talaga,” said another resident Amir Saripada.

The Philippine Reclamation Authority said the informal settlers had no right to stay in the place, which is being converted into a terminal for public transport vehicles.

The agency added a relocation site is being prepared for those who were evicted.

The settlers, however, said they will stay and brace themselves for another encounter with the demolition team. ANC from a report of Dominic Almelor, ABS-CBN News