Settlers’ fate rests on CH’s hands-A A +A
Tuesday, September 25, 2012
THE Cebu City Government has only four days to decide on the fate of about 29 families who are illegally occupying lots in Barangay Luz.
Judge Ramon Daomilas wants City Hall to apprise him on Friday about the status of the families whose houses stand to be demolished.
Daomilas, presiding judge of Regional Trial Court Branch 11, yesterday held in abeyance the demolition of their houses after city lawyers sought for another extension.
The city lawyers said they need additional time so City Hall can resolve the issue on what assistance can be extended to the affected families.
“I hope that all things will be cleared by Friday afternoon,” Daomilas said during the hearing of the City's appeal yesterday.
Daomilas slated the demolition of the houses yesterday, but this was put off after City Hall asked for one month extension.
In an urgent motion asking Daomilas to issue a status quo order and one month extension, City Hall lawyer Leslie Ann 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, the City Council has yet to make a final declaration whether Mayor Rama will be authorized to buy the property, Reyes said.
During the hearing of the motion yesterday, lawyer Collin Rosell, chief of the city's Division for the Welfare of the Urban Poor, told Judge Daomilas they cannot say yet whether to expropriate the lot or provide relocation sites for the affected families.
City Hall said it needs time to “negotiate and prepare for the socio-economic impacts on the affected residents.”
Of the original 32 families, 29 residents at Sitios Mabuhay, Lubi and Nangka in Barangay Luz remain in the property.
The three families voluntarily vacated the area after a fire hit the village last May 11.
Yesterday’s deferment of the demolition was the third time since the case was resolved
with finality by the Supreme Court in 2008.
The 32 families were ordered to vacate the property after they lost the legal battle in 1996.
Former judge and now Justice Isaias Dicdican dismissed the residents’ petition, which sought the partial annulment of contracts and certificates of titles in 1996.
At that time, the residents asked the court to allow them to buy the lots they are occupying, pursuant to the terms provided under Resolution 239-93 and Ordinance 93-1 of Cebu Province.
No legal rights
In his decision, Dicdican said the residents had no legal rights to buy, own or posses the lands they are occupying. They were then ordered to vacate the property.
Mayor Michael Rama had asked Judge Daomilas to postpone the demolition since he said the City is still searching for a “suitable relocation site” for affected families.
Daomilas, who granted the City’s appeal for extension of demolition for the third time, pointed out in his order that “enough time has been given to the City Government as to its position and its action.”
Citing case records, Daomilas said the City Legal Office failed to inform him of the City Government’s final position.
The judge also pointed out that the City was unsure whether or not to expropriate the lots occupied by the residents.
Daomilas wanted the city officials to prioritize the issue because he said it “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.”
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on September 25, 2012.