Philipppines: Parañaque demolition clash kills 1, hurts dozens

Residents hurl rocks at an anti-riot police vehicle during a demolition of shanties in Sucat, Paranaque city, metro Manila April 23, 2012. (REUTERS/Romeo Ranoco)
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(The Daily Star :: Lebanon News ::


Monday, April 23rd, 2012

MANILA, Philippines — One person was killed and at least six were injured on Monday as heavily-armed riot police clashed with hundreds of residents of Silverio Compound in Parañaque City clashed with police-backed demolition teams Monday.

The fatality occurred as squatters blocked a road, hurling large stones at police, armed with shields and truncheons, who were trying to disperse them. Hundreds of illegal settlers burned tires, hurled rocks, bottles and bags filled with fish innards at police, who responded with tear gas.

Local precinct commander Senior Inspector Ani Endraca said one person was killed and another was in a critical condition after they were shot in the confusion.

“If you saw the situation here, you would think you were in Iraq,” he said, adding that five police and government personnel were hit by flying rocks.

He said it was only after the rioters were dispersed that police found a dead man on the road who appeared to have been shot in the head. It was not clear what caused the death of a man, who appeared to be a protester.

A village watchman was also shot and subsequently rushed to hospital, Endraca said, adding that it was not known who had shot the two men.

Local broadcaster GMA showed footage of a policeman firing an assault rifle towards the rioters as the police were showered with rocks.

“We will have to check on that,” said Endraca when told of the incident.

Paranaque Mayor Florencio Bernabe said authorities only wanted to remove a makeshift marketplace to make way for low-cost housing but the squatters were told they would be driven out of their homes as well.

“They are easy to fool. They are very vulnerable. I understand their fears,” he said in an interview with GMA.

While earlier reports said that one was killed in the clash, Senior Superintendent Billy Beltran, Paranaque chief of police, still denied to confirm the report, but said that four cops were hurt after residents threw stones at them to defend their homes from getting demolished.

Police earlier said that around 10,000 protestors formed human barricades around Silverio Compound after the 10-day notice of demolition issued by the local government expired this Monday.

The residents claimed that a city ordinance ordered the expropriation of the area in their favor but despite this, the city government obtained a demolition order from a Pasay court earlier this year.

Traffic along Sucat Road which snarled due to the barricade set up by the residents has eased, as of press time.

Beltran said around 15 people who joined the stand-off were arrested, which may probably face charges for assault, physical injury, illegal possession of explosives, among others.

Such violent clashes between riot police and squatters are a frequent event in the highly-congested Philippine capital where rural migrants have crowded into slums, worsening urban blight.

More than two million people in Metro Manila — or roughly one fifth of the sprawling city’s population — live in shanty towns as so-called informal settlers or squatters. With reports from Nathan Melican, Philippine Daily Inquirer

Originally posted at 11:59 am | Monday, April 23,  2012

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