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Makati gov’t defends declaration of ‘danger zone’ at Laperal Compound

By Pat C. Santos
05/02/2011 [ ]
Contradicting the claims of some quarters that Laperal Compound should not be declared as a “danger zone,” the Makati government stood firm on its stand that the local government is empowered to issue the declaration in the interest of public safety as mandated by law.
This was the official statement made by Joey Salgado, officer-in-charge of the Makati City Information and Community Relations Department, saying the law was on their side.
Salgado said after the city government declared the area a danger zone, small groups of settlers re-entered the compound and set up barricades. The groups reportedly refused to vacate the area which was swept by a huge fire last month.
“Laperal Compound was no longer safe. Because of the fire, the two large billboards were in danger of collapsing. The area has also been hit by a series of fires.”
“The city government was compelled to enforce the declaration to avoid undue injury,” the official stressed.
Salgado also refuted claims that the city government did not hold talks with the fire victims at the two-hectare compound which had reportedly served as a colony for “squatting” syndicates.
“Contrary to the claims of some sectors, dialogs were held with the leaders of the informal settlers. The options for them to relocate and the financial assistance were made immediately after the fire,” the official said.
He added last Thursday, Makati Mayor Jejomar Erwin Binay even directed the barangay chairman to hold a last-minute talk with the leaders to request them to voluntarily clear the area. The request was not heeded.
The same day saw the eruption of violence as the settlers prevented a clearing team and their police escorts from entering Laperal Compound. “They (settlers) were armed with molotov cocktails, improvised guns, and other deadly weapons. They even used children as human shields,” Salgado said.
At least 27 persons were injured, including members of the media, city employees and members of the city fire and police forces.
Binay also directed the City Legal Department to look into possible criminal charges that can be filed against members of a suspected squatting syndicate allegedly responsible for the violence that erupted when the clearing team and their police escorts tried to enter Laperal Compound Wednesday and Thursday.
Salgado clarified that the operation at Laperal Compound was not a demolition. “We were enforcing an order declaring the area a Danger Zone. There was nothing to demolish because the area had been hit by a fire and almost all shanties were destroyed.”
“Even assuming that it was a demolition, the law allows it in areas deemed hazard areas,” he said.

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