Katipunan ng mga Samahang Manggagawa
National Democratic Front of the Philippines
13 May 2012
Davao’s Villa Abrilles has pushed a community to persevere in the fight to maintain grip over lands, homes
The underground organization of urban poor Katipunan ng mga Samahang Manggagawa (KASAMA, condemns the flagrant oppression of Davao City’s oldest landlord family Villa Abrille, Lim Chuan Juna for its forcible eviction of residents of Purok 13, Barangay Maa. Backed with their vast resources and political connections, the Villa Abrille attempts to wrestle from the semi-proletariat families the latter’s precious homes and lands. Using the reactionary courts, executive agencies and the fascist police and security forces, the Villa Abrilles deceptively foisted against a community of 19 households families its high-end subdivision project on the strength of a fake land title.
At first, the masses relied heavily on a ruling of status quo by the reactionary regional trial court that prevents the Villa Abrilles from owning the supposedly alienable and disposable lands. But, as they fought against the landlord’s own brazen defiance, they learned how easy it was for the Villa Abrille family to make a mockery of the reactionary laws to suit its interest.
In 2004, the Villa Abrilles fenced the disputed property, disrupting the vegetable and fruit growers and workers living in the 20-hectare lot. They enticed residents to purchase the disputed lands with the amount ranging from PHP 3,000 to 15,000 per family. Some impoverished families fell into the trap of quick money and demolished their own homes; some of them were not original owners or heirs but were long time renters. Emboldened, the Villa Abrilles bulldozed the once fertile vegetable gardens and rice paddies, cemented the pathways and refurbished its signage at the front to herald the project named Le Jardin, a high-end subdivision for the rich.
Last year, Villa Abrille vigorously pursued its upscale housing project full-blast. On May 30, Villa Abrille security forces harassed residents who stood ground and defied their incursion. The demolition team flattened over fruit orchards and vegetable gardens — fields which were nurtured as early as in 1926 when the residents started living in the vacant lots. The heavy equipment leveled the community’s main source of livelihood. Enraged and desperate, one of the long staying residents, 71-year old Nanay Silay, threw stones at the backhoe, one of the trucks that were used. The equipment owner, RT Lapena Equipments, sued Nanay Silay for her defiant act on charges of malicious mischief. The police jailed the elderly militant leader for four days. Already frail upon her release from prison, Nanay Silay was rushed to the hospital.
Meanwhile, the company’s operation continued. Villa Abrille’s guards led by former policeman and now with Addis security agency Steve Diaz led the operation as they tore off the electricity and water lines. He was acting upon the command of Norman Udtohan Enano, the field operation manager. On September 6, they shot at the residents 12 times. The residents reported the incident to the reactionary police and filed a case of indiscriminate firing. The police arrested the 11 security guards but released them four days later.
Their rights to abode already trampled, the urban poor community put up a fight against the Villa Abrilles. They mounted sack streamers denouncing the flagrant abuses, held a picket-demonstration at the local city hall and called the attention of the Dutertes who were known recipients of the landlord family’s largesse. The City Council conducted an onsite committee hearing in December to probe the abuses.
The Dutertes have remained staunchly protective of the interest of the Villa Abrilles by its hands off stance on the issue.
In October, the community received an endorsement letter from the Presidential Action Center ordering the Department of Environment and Natural Resources to investigate the land title claimed by the landlord patriarch Francisco Villa Abrille. No results of the investigation were forwarded to the residents. Meanwhile, the legal battle seeking to nullify the fake title claimed by Villa Abrille continues to languish.
Last month, the guards again opened fire at the residents. One of the hapless women were hit by a stray bullet at the abdomen. The guards also shoved its high-powered rifle against the already traumatized children. One of the women attempted to come up at the backhoe to put a stop over the leveling operation. Their stones and other fashioned slings have not made a dent against the metal equipment. In April 24 at 11:45 in the morning, police accompanied the backhoe operator and the guards. The police tried to arrest one 17-year old resident to whom they accused of hitting the equipment with his sling. The guards hired some goons who also threw some stones against the residents.
Indeed, the grave abuse of feudal power, wealth and state fascism by the Villa Abrilles is pushing the semi-proletariat to advance their legitimate interest militantly. The urban poor must take the national and democratic struggle to understand and fight the systemic problems of imperialism, feudalism and bureaucrat-capitalism that have bred the urban penury, homelessness, forcible eviction and fascist capitalist incursion. To contain their struggle to court battles would be foolhardy in the face of the rapacious interests of the ruling class. To rely on the laws that offer paltry concessions would merely humanize demolitions and further push the urban poor in the misery of homelessness and abject poverty.
All the more the semi-proletariat should take the only recourse for it to enjoy permanent jobs, adequate homes and livelihood: waging the armed struggle to attain a just society free from the tyranny of landlords and capitalists.
(Sgd.) Andrea Silang
National Democratic Front of the Philippines