UP-Cebu urged to consider occupants of site for new building-A A +A
Tuesday, September 3, 2013
CEBU City officials told the administration of the University of the Philippines (UP) Cebu to consult the 1,000 families occupying the school’s property in Barangay Lahug before implementing its new high school building project.
The project, whose first phase will cost P60 million, will displace families whose houses occupy the UP-Cebu lot.
During his regular news conference yesterday, Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama said UP should conduct an inventory of affected families to determine the exact number of residents who will be affected by the project.
In a separate interview, UP Associate Dean for Administration Karl Roque Jr. said school officials are discussing the relocation of families with the Cebu City Division for the Welfare of the Urban Poor (DWUP) and the Presidential Commission on the Urban Poor.
He said the school also wants to ensure that the relocation of affected families will be done in a humanitarian manner.
Roque said UP-Cebu would be remiss in its duty to provide quality education if it cannot implement the new high school project by December.
“Our high school building is pathetic. It is impractical to renovate it,” he told Sun.Star Cebu.
The Lahug Central Homeowners Association (LACHOA) earlier asked the Capitol to take back the property it donated to the Cebu Junior College as the school no longer exists.
The homeowners hope that if the Capitol takes back the lot, they would not be evicted.
Roque said the Cebu Junior College is the precursor of UP-Cebu so the condition on the donation of the property, which is to use the lot for educational purposes, remains.
But Provincial Legal Officer Orvi Ortega yesterday said Capitol owns only 2,000 square meters, located between the UP High School and the Lahug Night High School, of the 18-hectare property of the State-owned university in Lahug and Camputhaw, Cebu City.
Ortega said his office still has to find out which property the homeowners have been referring to. But he said UP-Cebu has not been able to use the 2,000 square meters of land that Capitol owns because it is occupied by settlers.
Roque cited Republic Act 7279 or the Urban Development and Housing Act of 1992, which states that if a government agency has a provision to expand its facilities it cannot be stopped.
He said the high school building cannot be built at the SRP because there are no jeepney routes there yet and it would be too costly to shuttle students from the city center to the school.
Besides, Roque said, the project has been approved by the Board of Regents of UP in 2010. “We cannot deviate from the master plan. Any deviation would require the approval of the Board,” he added.
Mayor Rama said there should be a balance between the interests of UP-Cebu and the concerns of the families. He added that UP-Cebu should incorporate the lot occupants in its plan.
The mayor said he has instructed lawyer Collin Rosell, DWUP head, to handle the matter.
Lawyer Dominador Cafe, president of LACHOA, said UP-Cebu officials met them last Aug. 9 to discuss their plans for the property.
But he lamented that the meeting was held at the UP campus at the South Road Properties (SRP) so only a few residents were able to attend. He said UP-Cebu officials should have held the meeting at the Lahug barangay hall, the barangay sports complex or at the Lahug Elementary School.
The university owns a five-hectare lot at the SRP, which was donated by the City Government.
City Councilor Mary Ann de los Santos, on the other hand, wants the State-owned university to study the possibility of providing relocation sites for the families that will be evicted.
De los Santos, a former barangay captain of Lahug, said village officials are waiting for UP-Cebu to schedule another meeting with affected families.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on September 03, 2013.