EVICTION. Demolition teams dismantle makeshift houses in Upper Dagong, Zayas, Barangay Carmen, Cagayan de Oro City, Tuesday (June 14, 2022). Some 7,000 informal settlers were removed by the police from the area without protest. (Photo courtesy of Rhoel Condeza/Cagayan de Oro CIO)

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY – The Cagayan de Oro City Police Office (COCPO) and the city government facilitated Tuesday the demolition of dwellings of some 7,000 informal settlers inside a private property here.

Maj. Evan Viñas, COCPO spokesperson, noted that the demolition team did not experience violent protests from settlers in Sitio  Zayas, Barangay Carmen.

“We were here (police team) since 6 a.m., and there was no resistance from the occupants, and we thank everyone for their cooperation,” Viñas said in an interview

Since March, the settlers had been occupying a private property near the old city landfill with an area of around 27 hectares.

Weeks before the demolition, police served a notice of eviction detailing the removal of their makeshift houses and other structures.

Settlers claimed they paid an amount ranging from PHP500 to PHP2,000 to secure a “slot” for a parcel of the property.

The payment was allegedly received by an Indigenous People (IP) organization that claimed the property as part of their ancestral domain.

However, the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples in Northern Mindanao said the IP organization that claimed the Zayas property was not legitimate.

Meanwhile, Mayor Oscar Moreno said the rule of law should prevail in the case of the illegal settlers who were compelled to vacate a privately-owned lot.

“There’s a law that favors illegal occupants and the government finds ways to help settlers relocate. At the same time, people simply cannot occupy privately-owned land without permission from the owner,” he said.

Moreno said the settlers were manipulated and encouraged to occupy the land by “unscrupulous groups” that should be exposed for their wrongdoing.

“What’s painful about this is that these groups brought people to Sitio Zayas and swindled them of their hard-earned money to occupy the land.  We should not allow these groups to exploit the kindness of the government (for their benefit),” he said. (PNA)