Police battle protesters in Manila slum riot

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 02 July, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 02 July, 2013, 2:21am


Philippine slum dwellers hurling rocks, improvised explosives and human excrement fought running battles with riot police yesterday around a sprawling Manila shanty town that is set for redevelopment.

Police said an officer was admitted to hospital with a head injury. Several residents of the North Triangle slum were briefly detained without being charged.

Police moved in as traffic backed up after squatters erected barricades across a street, the district's police chief, Senior Superintendent Richard Albano, said on television.

"We arrested some people, but later decided to release them," he added.

Residents hurled projectiles at officers who baton-charged them from behind shields. Rocks, spikes and nails packed in small containers, as well as faeces, were hurled at the police.

Television also showed police firing what appeared to be tear gas at the rioters, who were reined in just before midday.

Slums, and the riots sparked by official efforts to clear them, are prominent features of Philippine cities. Nearly a third of the population is considered poor.

The 29-hectare North Triangle area had previously housed 10,000 squatter families, according to city mayor Herbert Bautista. About 8,000 families were relocated with government help in the past two years, he said.

The government plans to redevelop it in partnership with a real estate firm into a 65 billion peso (HK$11.6 billion) business district, with the first phase set to be completed in three years.

Leah Valencia, leader of a support group for the squatters, said they were protesting at a formal notice to leave by June 30.

She said they complained the relocation site was too far from Manila, where they scrape a living in construction and other low-paying jobs. Most are migrants from the provinces and some have lived in the slum for 30 years, she added.