PGMA orders clearing of illegal traders, settlers along Roxas Blvd
Manila (15 September) -- President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo ordered yesterday morning government agencies and local officials concerned to clear the Roxas Boulevard area of illegal traders and settlers before the onset of the Christmas holidays.
The President issued the order after listening to the concerns of officials from Barangay 76 in Pasay City led by Chairman Cecilio San Miguel during her visit there yesterday morning.
The concerns include the alarmingly growing number of Mindanao traders who have since set up their own mosque in the reclamation area near Baclaran.
Government agencies and local officials -- including Pasay City Mayor Wenceslao "Peewee" Trinidad -– had earlier recommended relocating the informal settlers along Roxas Blvd. who, the officials said, are actually well-off traders pre-positioning for the Christmas holidays.
The President said the group of Maranao traders could be returned to their place of origin via the military's C-130 planes, and may be relocated in a resettlement site in Zamboanga City complete with sewerage system and livelihood projects.
President Arroyo visited Barangay 76 at the vicinity of the Cuneta Astrodome along Roxas Blvd. She later met with and addressed a group of women at the nearby Philippine International Convention Center (PICC).
An official of the Philippine Relocation Authority (PRA) seconded the observation of the barangay officials, and reported to the President that the said group – which has been declared illegal settlers via a court order -- has made the mosque their residence and even their warehouse.
Datu Ali Sangki, newly-appointed head of the Office of Muslim Affairs (OMA), said such desecration is not allowed, and promised the President that he would check on the said mosque immediately after the meeting at the Cuneta Astrodome.
Not all Mindanao traders in the area are illegal settlers, according to Mayor Trinidad. He lauded a group of Muslim traders who have since bought their own apartment and built their own mosque complete with building permit. The members of the group sell their wares in their own area and are "not troublemakers," Trinidad said.
The President advised Mayor Trinidad to help relocate the mosque to accelerate efforts to clear the area immediately before Christmastime.
The mosque in question is occupying the area reserved for a trans-modal terminal for Pasay's Baclaran area.
President Arroyo said the government could build a village for the informal settlers in their province of origin if they are not accepted in the existing relocation site in Zamboanga City.
The PRA said 70 percent of the group of 120 families have agreed to the P30,000 per family offered as relocation assistance, while 30 percent insisted on staying in the area as it is near Baclaran where they ply their wares. (OPS) [top]