Trouble brewing as settlement of Salmonan land dispute fails

Published April 20, 2018, 10:00 PM

by Mario Casayuran and Vanne Elaine Terrazola

By (PNA)

Davao City — The city police are gearing up for trouble after the landowner and settlers in Salmonan area failed to reach a compromise for the peaceful demolition of the houses of the informal settlers.

“Total failure, both parties won’t compromise during our attempt for mediation,” said Davao City Police Office (DCPO) Director Sr. Supt. Alexander Tagum in a text message to media on Thursday.

Tagum said the affected settlers “just wanted to delay their ejection from that 3,500 square-meter contested real estate.”

“The Maranaos are willing to die fighting for the land which is not theirs, I see a lot of trouble in this one that’s why we are preparing,” Tagum added.

Tagum is expecting trouble after the leaders of the urban poor group Kadamay organized the affected settlers upon receiving information that their area will be demolished on April 17.

According to Davao police chief, it was learned that Kadamay, led by Jay Apiag, and some leaders of the Salmonan settlers met wherein the settlers were reportedly encouraged to arm themselves and provoke authorities. The scene will be recorded to charge authorities.

The settlers have gathered empty bottles, nails, and other hard/blunt materials to be used in resisting against the demolition team.

Asked if police have such information, Tagum said, “That’s exactly what we gathered. In fact, they have organized the picket line and placards.”

Last Tuesday, DCPO was ready with its deployment of more than 1,000 policemen, and another 1,000 laborers for the execution of the demolition order.

The court sheriff was expected to serve the writ of execution to the settlers of the 3,515-square meter plot of land in Salmonan who have organized themselves as the Quezon Boulevard Muslim-Christian Neighborhood Association.

The final notice of demolition was dated March 3, and presented to the affected families on March 27.

The affected residents are 67 households composed of 34 Moro families and 33 Christian families.

Tagum earlier said, “We’ll execute the operation either tonight (April 17) or tomorrow (April 18). We’ll deploy more than 1,000 security police personnel and 1,000 demolition men.”

He directed the police to secure and protect the Court Sheriff who will serve the demolition order and deploy the demolition men and ensure no one will be hurt.

Tagum vowed that violators will be arrested.

“We will ensure the rule of law and not the rule of force,” he said.

Vice Mayor Bernard Al-ag earlier said, “We will help the peaceful implementation of the writ of execution. We will follow the decision of the court.”

According to Al-ag, the issue has been there for a long time.

Even the City Planning and Development Office (CPDO) through the City Housing unit had difficulty in interviewing house owners and tagging houses due to the owners’ resistance.

Al-ag said the city government would follow the court unless there is an injunction order.

“We expect resistance. Hangyo lang mi sa residents to follow the decision of the court (But I appeal to the residents to follow the decision of the court),” Al-ag told reporters.