CALBAYOG CITY -- The City Government started demolishing Wednesday the City Public Market following the demolition order from the City Engineering Office (CEO), the same day the court denied the petitioner’s Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) to stop the move.

The demolition order came after CEO found in its ocular inspection that the market buildings were already dilapidated and hazardous to both tenants and buyers.

Mayor Ronald Aquino said in a press conference that the demolition followed a procedure. The press conference was held while the protest was happening in the market.

Calbayog City public market demolition
SAMAR. Protesters block the riot police from entering the market on Wednesday while asking the Calbayog City Government to show the court's demolition order. (Gerwin Babon)

Aquino said the tenants were given more than one year to vacate and relocate to the new market but they did not because they do not want to lose their “illegal transactions.”

He added that the Department of Environment and National Resources (DENR) already sent a letter that the city may violate the Clean Water Act unless it relocates the market, which presently sits near the river.

The demolition team failed to enter the market all morning as tenants picketed outside to block their entry.

Calbayog Market Phase 1-2 Occupants Association (CAMPPOA) Chairman Boy Ajero, who led the picket, said in an interview that they will only leave if the city showed the demolition order from the court.

“We filed a TRO last year and it was granted through a Special Civil Case (SCA) 163. If I’m not mistaken we have a hearing on February 22, 2013… so this is ongoing,” Arejo said.

Arejo questioned why the order to demolish took so long if it is already dilapidated and hazardous.

He said the government favored only one businessman over them who are "little."

Arejo was referring to the Gaisano Mall, which was said to have bought the land where the present market stands.

It was only past noon when the demolition team was able to start the demolition after a court sheriff delivered to the press conference the SCA 175 denying the petitioner’s prayer for TRO.

“It was already waived by the petitioners a long time ago in SCA 163,” the order stated.

Lawyer Hernando Hernandez Jr. said there was no order from the court to stop the demolition, TRO was denied, and the petitioners themselves abandoned the filing.

Hernandez said only few petitioners continued to file while others were not legitimate tenants since there was “no existing contract between the government and the occupants.”

He added the demolition was the only implementation issued by engineering office, not the pending SCA 163, which is the main case against the mayor, including city officials.

Regional Trial Court Executive Judge Reynaldo Clemens denied the SCA 163 but the main case will continue. The respondents are given 15 days to respond, he said. (Gerwin Babon/Sunnex)