Cebu City asks for another postponement of demolition-A A +A
Saturday, September 22, 2012
THE Cebu City Government is racing against time to delay the demolition of 32 houses in Barangay Luz.
City Hall, through lawyer Leslie Ann Reyes, filed an urgent motion asking Regional Trial Court Branch 11 Judge Ramon Daomilas to issue a status quo order against the destruction of the houses on Sept. 24.
The pleading came after Daomilas scheduled the demolition tomorrow.
“Enough time has been given to the City Government as to its position and its action,” Daomilas said in his order, dated Sept. 21.
The 32 families in Sitios Mabuhay, Lubi and Nangka, who are members of the Barrio Luz Urban Poor Association (Blupa), were ordered to remove their structures and other improvements introduced to their residences.
The court had ordered the demolition after residents lost the case they filed in 1994 against the homeowners’ associations.
The houses were supposed to be demolished last April yet, but the City asked the court to reconsider after a fire hit the area on May 11.
Although the demolition order was only issued to 32 houses, a total of 70 families will be affected by it as it already includes the extended families of the original lot occupants.
Mayor Michael Rama had asked the court for several postponements since he said the City is still searching for a “suitable relocation site” for the affected families.
The City is eyeing four sites in Barangays Tisa, Bulacao, Inayawan and Basak Pardo.
He also said there is no urgency to evict the 32 families since the homeowners’ associations of Sitios Mabuhay, Lubi and Nangka have yet to submit to the Division for the Welfare of the Urban Poor the list of names of the people who will take over the lots after the demolition.
“The fact of non-compliance and submission of the list of names and the pendency of any declaration of the council as to whether or not to allow the mayor in behalf of the City Government to negotiate and purchase the subject property are hereby respectfully submitted to support and justify this motion,” the mayor said.
He also said the law mandates that the local government unit has to intervene on matters relating to execution of eviction or demolition.
No final position
In his order, Judge Daomilas said case records show the City Legal Office failed to inform him about the City’s final position on the matter.
The judge pointed out the City was unsure whether to expropriate the lots concerned.
Daomilas directed the City to appear on Monday for the deliberation of the pleading for the issuance of the status quo order.
“Priority should be given attention to this matter since this involves the rights of a citizen to shelter and any delay by local authorities will also cause a delay in the court process which the court can no longer tolerate,” the judge said.
In the pleading, lawyer Reyes said the Cebu City Housing Board endorsed to the City Council for final action the acquisition of the property and authority to negotiate with the mayor.
But up to now, Reyes said the council has yet to make a final declaration whether to authorize Rama to purchase the property.
“It is under the same premise that the mayor upholds when it dipped its fingers into this unusual but legitimate case that was left unattended and ignored the past administration,” the pleading read.
Reyes asked Daomilas to give the mayor’s office at least a month to negotiate and prepare for the socioeconomic impact on the affected residents.
“Moreover, the plight of the poor is not only the concern of the Office of the Mayor but the whole humanity at large. The mandate for social justice from our fundamental law is everyone’s responsibility,” the pleading read.
In an interview yesterday, Lolita Barellano, secretary of Blupa, said there’s nothing they can do if the court pushes through with the demolition.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on September 23, 2012.