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Informal settlers clash with policemen

Violence marred the fourth attempt to demolish illegal structures in Barangay Culiat, Quezon City yesterday as informal settlers in the area clashed with policemen protecting the demolition team.

Armed with rocks, bottles, dirty water and human waste, the residents tried to hold their ground against a phalanx of anti-riot policemen.

Residents of the disputed Pagasa compound had earlier barricaded the stretch of Luzon Avenue with wooden tables and tricycles to prevent the demolition team from reaching their homes.

The clash broke out at 8:30 a.m. when policemen started to push their way toward the compound. Some of the affected residents ran toward the policemen armed with wooden clubs.

But policemen far outnumbered the residents and it was just a matter of time before they were subdued.

Eleven members of the demolition team were injured while some policemen suffered cuts as a result of the clash.

The informal settlers watched helplessly as the demolition team proceeded to tear down the shanties. The operation is expected to be completed today.

The demolition was carried out in the 2,000-square meter property owned by the Picache family based on the court order from the Quezon City Regional Trial Court.

Sheriff Bienvenido Reyes Jr. of the QC RTC said the demolition should push through since no court order has been given to stop it.

But residents argued that there is still an ongoing hearing on the issue claiming that the owner of the compound was not able to appear before any proceeding.

Policemen used tear gas against informal settlers during an aborted demolition on March 9. Seven children and a woman were rushed to the hospital after inhaling the gas.

Violence also erupted the following day when residents successfully thwarted the operation by using tricycles to stop the advancing demolition team.

A third attempt was foiled when Quezon City Rep. Jose Christopher “Kit” Belmonte stepped in, saying that the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) is still preparing relocation plans for the residents.

The clash tied up traffic at a portion of the Luzon Avenue from Congressional to the Commonwealth Avenue.