Last January 25, 2011, the city government of San Juan led by Mayor Guia Gomez, former President Joseph Estrada’s mistress and Cong. JV Ejercito’s mother, using its police force and hired demolition team violently dispersed the resisting residents of Brgy. Corazon de Jesus when the police couldn’t break their barricades to prevent the demolition of their homes. The city government wants to build a new city hall, inspired by America’s White House, and eventually a government center in Brgy. Corazon de Jesus where hundreds of houses stand. (Read story about the demolition here.)
Many were injured, either by the police’s beating or by tear gas thrown at the protesters. Fifteen were incarcerated but hopefully everyone will be released this week. Even members of alternative media group Tudla Productions who has been covering the struggle of the residents of Brgy. Corazon de Jesus were harassed by policemen.
But if the Ejercito clan thought that an overkill–complete with water cannon, rocks, snipers, M-16, shields, truncheon and tear gas–will stop the residents of Brgy. Corazon de Jesus from defending their homes, they better think twice.
A day after their homes were demolished, residents of Brgy. Corazon de Jesus led by the Sandigan ng Mamamayang Nagkakaisa (SAMANA) immediately built their homes collectively. They used the materials from the houses that were demolished and from donations coming from supporters. Then, they brought their issue to Mendiola and marched to raise their concern to President Noynoy Aquino.
Last January 30, 2011, when we went back to Brgy. Corazon de Jesus to show them the videos and pictures different alternative media groups took during the demolition, their response were overwhelming. They all cheered when they saw their neighbors in the videos and jeered when they saw Erap and JV Ejercito. I felt their anger against their oppressors and determination to continue to fight for their homes.
Even if more than 50 houses were demolished last January 25, the residents of Brgy. Corazon de Jesus proved something–resisting against government oppression can only succeed through collective and militant action. If they did not resist against the demolition, all of them would have been thrown to relocation sites in different towns of Southern Tagalog, which is not only far from their livelihood but doesn’t also have decent living conditions.
In the times where our basic rights are being trampled upon by powers-that-be, resistance is the only way to defend them.
Their fight will continue until they win back their land and build their homes again.