Apas folk appeal judge’s order-A A +A
Thursday, May 3, 2012
ARE all occupants of Lot 937 at Sitio San Miguel in Barangay Apas, Cebu City truly “underprivileged and homeless citizens?”
This question cropped up in yesterday’s hearing of the motion for reconsideration filed by Mayor Michael Rama, who asked the court to delay the enforcement of writ of demolition until Republic Act (RA) 7279 is complied with.
Rama, through his counsel Collin Rosell, cited Sec. 28 of RA 7279, or the Urban Development and Housing Act of 1992, in seeking reconsideration of the order issued by Judge Soliver Peras, who ordered to proceed with the demolition of the houses.
The provision states that “in cases of eviction and demolition involving underprivileged and homeless citizens, relocation shall be undertaken by the local government unit concerned and the National Housing Authority… within 45 days from service of notice of final judgment by the court.”
Rosell told Judge Peras the City is still looking for a relocation site for 168 affected families.
But whether all residents are underprivileged and homeless remains a question.
For instance, some military personnel inside Camp Lapu-Lapu are still in active service, Judge Peras observed.
“Now, how could they be considered underprivileged?” asked Peras.
The residents occupy a 4.6-hectare parcel of land, designated as Lot 937, in Barangay Apas.
The lot used to be government-owned and housed the Regional Training School of the Philippine National Police.
In 2002, a lower court ruling awarded ownership of the property to Mariano Godinez, who, in 1997, lodged a civil suit and presented a reconstituted title proving that he is the “absolute and exclusive owner” of the property.
Then Judge Benigno Gaviola awarded Godinez not only possession of the lot but also ownership of all buildings introduced on the property.
The present occupants contested the ruling. They said the lot has been identified as a socialized housing site by the Cebu City Government via Resolution 99-4771 dated June 30, 1999.
Peras recently issued a status quo order to hold in abeyance the implementation of a writ to demolish the houses.
Peras cited “compelling issues” that needed to be resolved, particularly the enforcement of Republic Act (RA) 7279, or the Urban Development and Housing Act of 1992.
In his April 19 order, Judge Peras ruled that the implementation of the writ of demolition has to proceed.
But lawyer Rosell, in the pleading, argued that the April 19 order issued by Peras is “contrary to the law and the facts.”
“Thus, it is imperative for this court to hold in abeyance the implementation of the writ of demolition otherwise it would result to injustice,” Rosell said.
Peras gave Roberto Palmares, counsel for lot owner Godinez, five days to submit their comment to the City’s pleading.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on May 03, 2012.