Still homeless, a year after Sara’s punch

Jul. 11, 2012

“We have no choice but to strive hard to continue to survive. But because the threat of demolition is always there, we have to be on our toes all the time.” Penny Panungkad, resident, Soliman, Agdao

Davao Today

Davao City — A year after the much publicized punching incident between Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte and court sheriff Abe Andres in Soliman, Agdao, urban poor settlers find themselves still trying to pick up the pieces and wishing to live in their own homes.

“We have no choice but to strive hard to continue to survive. But because the threat of demolition is always there, we have to be on our toes all the time,” said Penny Panungkad, one of the women residents who led the barricade against the city’s demolition team in July 1 last year. The barricade later turned violent and was later dispersed.

Panungkad said that the actual demolition was temporarily thwarted by their barricade but buy-offs done by the Davao Enterprise Corporation (DAVENCOR), the company claiming their lands, harassed them into submission.

According to Panungkad, about 200 plus families have decided to transfer to Los Amigos, the city’s relocation site offered to them. Majority of the residents have merely restored their broken houses and continued living in the disputed site. “Many returned here because of the lack of livelihood in the relocation site,” said Panungkad

Housing problem among the urban poor will further aggravate with the planned creation of the Department of Housing and Urban Development or DHUD,  warns Toto Bulcan, spokesperson of the urban poor group Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap (KADAMAY) during its press conference Monday.

Passage of House Bills 1231 and 2216 are top priorities of the Aquino administration and the Legislative-Executive Development Advisory Council (LEDAC). The proposed measure involves the merging of key shelter agencies to form the DHUD. Under the Aquino Public Private Partnership program, the DHUD may enter into business agreement with private housing companies.

“This means the government’s housing program will do away with its service orientation, and will primarily be profit-driven,” Bolcan said.

Alma Delano, the Community Relations Specialist of the National Housing Authority told Davao Today they cater to the lowest income earners especially in land acquisition, thus “we hope that if the bill pushes thru, our role would still be the same.”

Senate approved on second reading its own version Senate Bill 3199 last month and could be approved when Congress opens on July 23.

KADAMAY-Davao City said that demolitions in the city have already displaced 57 communities and affected 6,000 families.

In the meantime, Soliman residents remain vigilant as the case of the disputed property continues to be heard in court. They ward off what they call the continuing “harassment” of  Davencor, especially when it attempted to fence the property twice, the latest of which was last June 25.  (John Rizle Saligumba/

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