A group of informal settlers from Quezon City had to wait at least 10 hours at the city hall yesterday just so they could meet and speak with Mayor Joy Belmonte.
Called the QC Urban Poor Network, the group waited for Belmonte so they could discuss several matters, including the impending demolition of their homes on Aug. 7. The group is composed of long-time residents of San Roque, a village that will be converted into a business district through a joint venture between the National Housing Authority (NHA) and the Ayala Corporation.
Netizens criticized Belmonte for this, saying that she was rude for making the residents wait for so long.
They became aware of the residents’ plight when social media accounts including Rappler’s MovePH posted about it.
In a tweet yesterday, Rappler said: “Urban poor residents facing demolition from San Roque, Quezon City were set to meet with Mayor Joy Belmonte today at the city hall. After being made to wait for 8 hours, they were informed that the meeting will no longer push through.”
Urban poor residents facing demolition from San Roque, Quezon City were set to meet with Mayor Joy Belmonte today at the city hall. After being made to wait for 8 hours, they were informed that the meeting will no longer push through. | via @Nicolas_Czarpic.twitter.com/RsWKBO9Ixx
— MovePH (@MovePH) July 29, 2019
However, a tweet from Save San Roque Alliance, one of the non-profits working with the residents present at the city hall, said that after waiting for 10 hours, Belmonte finally spoke with her constituents.
In a phone interview with Coconuts Manila, Save San Roque convenor Arvin Dimalanta said they were originally supposed to speak with Belmonte at 7:30am but because she had a series of appointments, the meeting had to be moved to 8:30am, to 3pm, and finally to a little past 6pm.
“These people, they are paid per day in their jobs. Because they didn’t show up at work, they lost their livelihood for the day. But they didn’t want to leave because their houses are about to be demolished and they were at the city hall already,” Dimalanta said.
Dimalanta said they were at the city hall to convince Belmonte not to renew a document, called a Certificate of Compliance, that would give the NHA the authority to demolish the residents’ homes. Belmonte assured them that she would not renew the certificate and that no demolition would take place.
A member of Belmonte’s staff at the Quezon City city hall who wished not to be named told Coconuts that the group of residents showed up that morning without a prior appointment.
“It was an open house where the mayor can speak to anyone, but because there are far too many people wanting to discuss things with her, they have to make an appointment first. When they arrived, she had an appointment with the Department of Interior and Local Government, followed by a meeting with the village chiefs,” she said in Filipino and English.
“When they were here in the morning, the chief of staff already spoke with them, but they insisted on waiting for Mayor Belmonte. That’s why they ended up waiting at 6pm,” the staff said.
Belmonte also said this in a post on Facebook where she wrote: “Thank you to Quezon City’s urban poor for your unexpected visit to my office yesterday. Although my staff has already spoken to you, you still chose to wait so you could personally speak with me.”