Lugait mayor faces displaced residents after months of silence

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Wednesday, December 18, 2013


AFTER seven months of reportedly being silent about the issue and seeming nonchalance to the clamor of the families affected by the demolition of a village in his town, Lugait municipal mayor Willie Lim finally sat down with the residents on Monday.

Also present in the dialogue were Lugait municipal police chief Senior Inspector Harvey Sanchez and Calangahan village chairman Arque Abing.

Although Lim finally faced the displaced residents, Jovito Jabagat, chair of Alyansa sa mga Biktima sa Demolisyon sa Calangahan (Albidec), said the dialogue should have been held when law enforcers implemented the first demolition in May this year.

“It is sad that the local government unit (LGU) had to face us this late,” said Jabagat, adding that Albidec asked him three times to seek for intervention from the LGU—twice in July and once in August this year.

Jabagat added that if the mayor faced them earlier, death could have been avoided and violence could have been averted.

Five-point agenda

During the dialogue, Albidec with its leaders presented a five-point agenda.

First, the organization seeks for relocation as prescribed by law with home lots of at least 100 square meters.

Apart from that, the demolition victims also seek for a relocation site that has access to water, electricity, and other basic social services including their livelihood which is fishing.

“It should be free,” said Jabagat.

Second, Albidec members seek for logistical support from the LGU during relocation, and financial assistance to help them get through the first weeks after relocating.

Third on the agenda, Albidec asked for immediate financial assistance while waiting for the relocation site, such as food, medicine, water and others.

Albidec also seeks for the investigation and prosecution of the people responsible for the violent dispersal on December 4, 2013, as the fourth on their agenda.

Lastly, the group asked for indemnification for the death of Nixxon Tungao and all the victims of the bloody dispersal including other cases like harassment and abuse.

Tungao was laid to rest on December 17 in Lugait. His wife, Rosel, fearlessly told TV Patrol Northern Mindanao that she would shoot the alleged police who shot Nixxon to obtain justice.

The residents marched from Calangahan to Lugait town to uphold what he said in his dying breath: “Continue with the struggle.”

Posted on SB Lugait, the official social media page of the Sangguniang Bayan (SB) of Lugait, it stated that a resolution was approved authorizing the mayor to enter into a contract with Mr. Jacinto Patilano, et.al—owners of the proposed relocation site for the displaced families.

During the dialogue, the residents were prohibited to take proper documentation since their cell phones, recording devices and cameras are banned inside the conference room.

Wildon Barros, spokesperson of Task Force Lugait, told Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro that the municipal government of Lugait is employing ‘Marcosian’ tactics on its dialogue.

Barros added that advocates and support groups were barred from entering the conference room to observe the process of the dialogue.

Caution

Amid these new developments, Barros, said the LGU is yet to finalize a timetable for the relocation of the residents.

As of December 16, he said the group has no idea until how long the demolition survivors will endure the dangers of living on the roadside with their makeshift shelters.

“We must note that the residents are always threatened by speeding vehicles and of the absence of proper physical structures to defend them from the heat, rain and cold which the municipal government has the heart to tolerate these past months,” said Barros.

Despite the Municipal government’s ‘zero’ performance in providing immediate humanitarian assistance, Barros said the vigilance and determination of the residents in urging the LGU to deliver what was promised to them never faltered.

Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on December 18, 2013.

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