MANILA, Philippines – Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim yesterday instructed policemen to make sure that residents of Quiapo’s notorious “Little Vietnam” would not go back and rebuild their homes in the area.
Lim, who went to the area to oversee the demolition of shanties yesterday morning, directed police to watch and secure the area which gained notoriety because of cases of killings and alleged illegal drug activities.
As early as 5 a.m., hundreds of heavily armed policemen, including members of the Manila Police District Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) and Explosives and Ordnance Division (EOD), were deployed in the area to keep the peace.
“The demolition was very peaceful,” said MPD acting director Senior Supt. Danilo Abarzosa. “There was no resistance from the residents because they were informed beforehand and they probably understand that this is for their own good.”
Police, however, found drug paraphernalia in the area during the demolition.
Lim gave the go-signal for the eviction of informal settlers after a dialogue with religious and barangay leaders.
The mayor said he already relocated settlers of “Little Vietnam” during his earlier term as mayor. He claimed that the demolition would not only help in the drive against crime but also improve the image of the Muslim community nearby.
The area along Arlegui Street got its tag in the 1970s during the Vietnam War.
“Little Vietnam” gained media attention last month following the discovery of the bodies of two women in a drum filled with cement. The victims were stabbed to death; the killings were reportedly drug-related.
Lim said victims of summary executions may have been dumped into a creek nearby.
The mayor said he has asked the Philippine Navy, the Coast Guard and the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority to help clean the waterway to see if more bodies had been dumped there.