Journalist reported missing during demolition coverage

ANGELES CITY — An Olongapo City-based journalist went missing while covering a demolition of houses in Barangay Anunas here on Tuesday, March 12, 2024.

The National Union of Journalists in the Philippines-Olongapo Chapter had appealed to the Angeles City police and the city government to help locate and facilitate the release of Olongapo City news anchor Rowena Quejada.

Media groups raised concerns following Quejada's disappearance.

Human rights groups, including the Peasant Watch CL, said that at least seven residents from Sitio Balubad were injured from gunfires that came from policemen and security guards hired by Clarkhills Properties Corporation during a brutal demolition in Sitio Balubad in said village.

The community is now in chaos as authorities push through with the eviction of settlers inside the 73-hectare land.

“We demand an end to the unjust demolition perpetrated by land grabbers like Clarkhills Properties Corp., who must be held accountable for their human rights violations,” Peasant Watch CL said.

Angeles City officials, headed by Mayor Carmelo Lazatin Jr, earlier met with residents affected by the demolition to discuss possible expropriation proceedings for over seven hectares of land their houses occupy.

The demolition affected 535 households and around 2,000 families.

Clarkhills, the developer, claimed ownership of the land following the cancellation of the residents’ Certificate of Land Ownership Award (CLOA).

The city government previously said it would use its power to expropriate the properties in Barangay Anunas since Clarkhills allegedly did not adhere to the agreement of presenting concrete plans before conducting the demolition.

Lawyer Gener Endona, spokesperson of Clarkhills, earlier clarified that the city government was informed about the demolition of commercial buildings and large houses in Barangay Balubad.

He said that local officials were told that Clarkhills will proceed with the implementation of the Writ of Demolition by fencing vacant lots and demolishing commercial buildings and big houses, without touching small houses and those involving the indigents.

Endona said Clarkhills expressed its intention to donate land to the affected residents and conduct relocation through the 4P's program of the Department of Human Settlement and Urban Development (DHSUD).

Clarkhills said it respects the local government's decision to claim the land while asserting their right to defend their property.

"Your decision to expropriate the land to award them to actual occupants is within the right of the LGU to file. However, Clarkhills also has the right to defend its own property from involuntary taking, which should be for 'public purpose," the firm stated.


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