War-like in Warwick Barracks

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Friday, January 24, 2014


OVER a hundred people yesterday tried to block the fencing of an area in Sitio Warwick Barracks in Barangay Ermita that was gutted by fire last week.

They only relented when Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama gave them an assurance that all vendors that were affected by the fire will not be displaced.

They will all be accommodated at the Freedom Park, which will be reconfigured.

Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) members were deployed in the area yesterday morning as people were yelling their fear that they will not be able to go back to the area.

Rama clarified that those living in the area will definitely not be able to go back because Warwick Barracks is zoned as a market and not residential.

Violence was averted when Rama called for an emergency meeting with the Ermita barangay officials.

“Being a market, we told them that, clearly, occupants will never be deprived by the temporary configuration (and) that all of them should be given the opportunity to be into selling,” Rama told reporters in a press conference.

Many people living in the area were also miffed that they would lose a place to rebuild their homes.

“Mosulod ana ang DWUP (Division for the Welfare of the Urban Poor) kay klaro man kaayo nga ang lugar not identified as housing (The DWUP will be involved because it’s clearly not identified as an area for housing),” said Rama.

Market Administrator Raquel Arce said the fencing was finished at around 5 p.m.

The area was fenced because Rama wants to develop the place.

An ample parking space will be paved so that vehicle owners do not have to park on the streets, causing heavy traffic.

Initially, Rama wants the market’s cooperative to manage the parking area.

Freedom Park will be bigger as the existing road will become part of the park. A temporary road will also be opened to compensate for the one that will be made part of Freedom Park.

The fire victims, specifically the vendors who lost their homes, who will be relocated at Freedom Park will be treated fairly. Stalls will have the same size.

Rama’s instructions were to fence Warwick Barracks then to put sand and gravel in the area. He has also instructed City Engineer Jose Marie Poblete to ensure that there will be no flooding in the area.

While Warwick Barracks is not a residential area, Rama wants temporary living quarters in place like a lodging house. This way, people with business in the area can stay overnight.

Rama admits this project would take a long time to be implemented.

The long-term goal is for the area to become a “commercial park” where vendors can sell their goods while at the same time there is an open space for people to stroll at.

It’s ironic how it’s called a Freedom Park, but there is no open space at all.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on January 24, 2014.

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