University of the Philippines

UP Diliman vendors fear future following clearing operations in Area 2

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UP Diliman vendors fear future following clearing operations in Area 2

BUSINESS AS USUAL? A day after the sudden April 23 clearing operation, businesses resume along Area 2 in the UP Diliman campus, with the main street unobstructed except for cars.


With lack of coordination and communication between the university administration and the local barangay prior to the clearing ops, the vendors of Area 2 in UP Diliman grow concerned for the future of their businesses

QUEZON CITY, Philippines — Things are not so ‘business as usual’ at the famed students’ food strip known as Area 2 in the University of the Philippines Diliman following the recent clearing operation carried out by the Quezon City Department of Public Order and Safety (DPOS) on Tuesday, April 23.

A walk along Area 2 the next day showed students dining and residents going about, with the usual ambiance of idle engines, sizzling plates, and whirring photocopiers.

But ask any resident or vendor about the clearing operation and the mood changes: some express relief that their spaces were left untouched, others were dismayed because of DPOS-confiscated tables, signages, carts—even plants and parking stands—that obstructed gutters or sections of the street.

The operations were conducted in the districts RIPADA (Ricarte, Dagohoy, and Palaris) before moving to Area 1 and 2 in the UP Diliman campus. However, students, residents, and vendors were not informed by officials and were taken by surprise.

“‘Di ko talaga alam na pupunta na rin [sila rito],” said Cheska, a FriedDays employee in Area 2 and a Pook Dagohoy resident, referring to past clearing ops in their area. “Parang biglaan [silang] pumasok. Kaya nagkaguluhan kahapon kasi oras pa ng [tanghalian] ‘yan eh. Alas dose mahigit.”

(I didn’t know they were coming here too. They came out of nowhere. That’s why there was commotion yesterday because it was lunchtime, past 12 noon.)

A video released by the Diliman chapter of the Union of Journalists of the Philippines showed the DPOS demolishing a concrete partition on the sidewalk with a sledgehammer. Netizens online, many of them UP faculty and students, condemned the act, linking the operation to the recent administration changes and policies within the campus.

Later that afternoon, the Philippine Collegian documented a snake rally that was led by organizations and student council members of the UP community to protest the operations.

The Quezon City government apologized in a statement on April 24 for the DPOS mishandling and conduct. The operation was ordered by Barangay U.P. Campus Captain Lawrence Mappala after a request from UP Diliman’s Vice Chancellor for Community Affairs Roehl Jamon. 

Shrinking spaces among vendors

While vendors complied with the officials and have since resumed working hours, many remain concerned over the future of their businesses.

“Syempre, apektado ‘yung negosyo kasi mas lumiit ‘yung espasyo namin, mas kaunti ‘yung pwedeng kumain (This affects us because our spaces are more limited, fewer customers can eat).” said Cheska.

Mark, who mans the MrTakoyakis stand in Area 2, was told by the DPOS that they would revisit the area the following week. He was warned that any recurrence of obstruction violations would result in stall closures.

Deding Palayaw, a vendor at the Kalye Dos stall, was anxious over the warning. “‘Eh ‘pag masara [kami] dito, wala na kaming trabaho (If we get closed down, we won’t have jobs).”

The clearing operations come under scrutiny after increasing commercialization of spaces within the campus have led many in the UP community to question the administration’s priorities. 

Deding gestured to the direction of the DiliMall’s construction site, the three-floor structure built over the burned-down UP Shopping Center. The new mall is set to open later this year, holding franchised, high-end restaurants and businesses. “Paano na kami ‘pag ando’n na [ang DiliMall?] (What will happen to us when the DiliMall opens?)”

Clearing ops not linked to commercialization

Roehl Jamon, the Vice Chancellor for Community Affairs of UP Diliman, clarified that the clearing operations he requested were in pursuance of QC Ordinance No. SP-2068, S-2011, and not any issued directive that further commercializes UP spaces.

“There’s no connection to DiliMall, for the record. It is true that at the start of this year, we had several initial meetings with the Barangay UP Campus leadership…it should be a partnership with regards to maintaining peace and order, security, safety, health and sanitation, in UP Campus,” Jamon said.

When asked about the Area 2 operations in relation to the larger issue of commercial interests encroaching upon student and small vendor spaces in the UP community, Jamon clarified again:

“Our office has no authority over commercial spaces or commercial interests inside the campus. That’s another office altogether. For us, it’s really keeping it safe, orderly. The only authority I would probably have would be parking, that’s where I step in. When there’s a robbery, that’s where I step in. The matter you conduct your business is not mine. But if you conduct your business in the middle of the road, it becomes my business.”

However, Jamon acknowledged the “clear lack of coordination” among barangay officials, the DPOS, and his office in carrying out their mandates. “We should have been there when [the clearing operation] started to happen. But we were caught unaware, it was lunchtime. Imagine the surprise and shock of the people,” he said.

Jamon told Rappler he was in between meetings during the operation, while the overseeing barangay captain Mappala was abroad. By that afternoon his office was inundated by calls.

The next morning, representatives from both the student and vendor communities met with Jamon at his office in Quezon Hall to seek clarification and recompense.

“The policy of this office is really protection of everyone,” Jamon said. “If this happens again, they [the community] only need to call us first…If [the barangay and DPOS] have to do another clearing, they have to go through us, and we have to be there in order to protect the interest of the community. I assured them that this is the mandate I gave to all units under this office.”

Demand for transparency

Vendors are counting on Vice Chancellor Jamon’s commitment to be transparent, as well as in amending and rectifying oversights. Last August, Jamon was under fire for ordering the demolition of a guardpost camp in Quezon Hall, as reported by Pahayagang KAPP.

Sana po nagsabi na [si Jamon] dito na bawal kayong maglagay diyan,” Cheska said. “Dapat umpisa pa lang sinabihan niya ‘yung mga nagtitinda… Sa kanya nagsisimula ‘yun eh.”

(The Vice Chancellor should have stated long beforehand what was prohibited to be placed. From the start he should have informed the vendors… The initiative starts with him.)

Vendors also appreciated the support of the students and faculty who mobilized to support them during the clearing operation itself, Deding Palayaw’s Kalye Dos stall was spared when dining students quickly cleared and set aside tables and chairs.

The vendors say they are willing to comply with future mandates provided that there are proper communication channels between community and officials, as well as public consultations and assistance. – Mika Soria/

Mika Soria is a Rappler volunteer from the University of the Philippines Diliman. As a soon-to-be graduate from the Bachelor of Arts in Creative Writing program, he is interested in exploring writing in the field of journalism–most especially when it comes to stories centered on community and nation-building.

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