Everyone who has visited or lived around Manila likely knows where the Rajah Sulayman Lumba Ranao Grand Mosque used to be, although few are likely to know that is what it was actually called. The dilapidated yet still somehow eye-catching structure sat west of Roxas Boulevard, surrounded by a small colony of Moro squatters in the no-man’s-land between Baclaran and the newer bayside developments.

It caught the attention of passers-by because it sat isolated in a large tract of otherwise empty land; it had also caught the attention of the government, because that land was prime development property under the control of Philippine Reclamation Authority.

Early in 2009 a plan was formulated by the PRA to relocate the mosque to a site in Parañaque to clear the land for development, culminating in a May 26 directive issued by Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita to the PRA, DPWS, DOT, and the City of Pasay informing them of the President’s instruction to proceed with the plan. The details of the proposed development were unclear; reportedly, the property was to be used for what is being called the “Southwest Public Transport Intermodal Center”, although the Manila Bulletin also reported the assertion of Archbishop Oscar Cruz that a casino might be built in place of the mosque. Also unclear is the exact nature of the proposed relocation, although it was implied that it would involve dismantling of the mosque and reconstructing it on a new site further south along the Coastal Road.

The plan – whatever it was, exactly – had naturally provoked furious resistance from the settlers around the mosque, who had organised themselves into the grandiose-sounding Samahan ng Nagkakaisang Nademolish in Roxas Boulevard to protest the move, promising “bloodshed” if the government persists in carrying it out.

Reproduced from Asia Human Rights Commission
(Photos by me added...)

On November 18th, 2009, a group of demolition team, composed of about 300 policemen from the Pasay City Police Office, their counterparts from the Police Regional Office of the National Capital Region (NCR) and the police's Regional Mobile Group (RMG) had gone to demolish the shanties of informal settlers built surrounding the Rajah Sulayman Lumba Ranao Grand Mosque in Roxas Boulevard. The local government's City Engineering Office (PCEO) and the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) were also present.

The team, lead by Senior Superintendent Raul Petrasanta, chief of police of PCPO as the ground commander, were allegedly carrying with them a writ of execution that had already expired. The writ was issued on August 11, 2009 by the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 274, in Paranaque City. The team had also did not comply with the rules on demolitions, for example, giving occupants subject of the impending demolition a notice to vacate. The occupants were caught unaware of the scheduled demotion on that day.

When the demolition team arrived, the occupants who were caught by surprise immediately formed a human barricade, most of whom were women, to prevent them from penetrating the contested property to demolish their shanties. The scene quickly became chaotic - children, women and elderly were running from one place to the other to seek safety. Some of them crawled to a grassy portion for cover while others scuffled with the advancing demolition team.

The policemen, armed with M16 rifles and pistols broke the human barricade by force by shoving and pushing with the metal truncheons they were holding. After breaking through the policemen and the demolition proceeded in dismantling the occupant's shanties. The demolition team also arrested a 13-year-old boy (name withheld) for carrying a slingshot the demolition team later claimed was used against them.

When the resisting occupants began throwing rocks at the policemen the latter responded with indiscriminate and disproportionately use of their weapons which resulted in the deaths of three persons, including a boy, and the wounding of several others. Those killed were Hakim Usman, 30 years old; Rajib Batalo, 7; and Yacub Macalnas, 37. Their dead bodies were buried immediately according to the Muslim's burial rites.