100 families to City Hall: ‘Help recover 600 hectares’-A A +A
Sunday, February 16, 2014
CEBU CITY -- Four village chiefs asked the Cebu City Council to pass a resolution asking President Benigno Aquino III to return 500 to 600 hectares to over 100 families who allegedly lost these properties during Martial Law.
Claimants in Barangays Babag, Malubog, Sirao and Pung-ol Sibugay in the Kan-irag valley were allegedly forced to sell their lands in the 1980s at “shocking prices dictated” by agents of the Philippine Tourism Authority (PTA), now the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority or (Tieza).
Lawyer Ramon Ceniza assisted the barangay captains and 34 residents. He said their move was sparked by the decision of farmers and landowners to break their silence and seek justice.
The barangay captains are Marjorita Cangmaong of Malubog, Jerson Cadampog of Pung-ol Sibugay, Felix Limotan of Sirao and Cesar Dolorito of Babag.
“We hope that this will trigger a national outrage over how the mountain barangays of Cebu City were turned from the once idyllic hills of flowers into hills of fear,” he told Sun.Star Cebu.
Cebu City Vice Mayor Edgardo Labella finds the appeal worth looking into. He received last week the letter from the barangay captains, which will be discussed during the City Council’s regular session on Wednesday.
The council, he added, will then refer the letter to the committee on laws headed by Councilor Sisinio Andales, for a report and recommendation.
“They will be the appropriate committee to determine if the claim of the residents is tenable. It is something really worth looking into,” he said.
Ceniza, a former Cebu Provincial Board member, further said that the PTA, land speculators and cronies of former President Ferdinand Marcos grabbed the lands through “devious legal means through the use of the much dreaded writs of possession and demolition.”
The seized lands were reportedly intended to be part of the tourism zone project, which was abandoned after the Marcos regime ended in 1986, when Aquino’s mother Corazon assumed the presidency.
These lots allegedly went to a crony of Marcos, who is represented by the present registered owners, the Philippine Games and Holidays Corp. and the F&F Agricultural Corp.
Marcos declared Martial Law on September 21, 1972. It formally ended in 1981, although his term lasted five years more.
The Philippines will celebrate the 23rd anniversary of the People Power Revolution, which ended the Marcos dictatorship, on February 25.
Busay barangay captain Amilo Lopez is among those who support the petitioners.
A copy of the petitioners’ draft resolution was sent to Vice Mayor Labella and Councilor Andales, another lawyer.
The petitioners want President Aquino to direct Tieza to “restore and return to the original landowners the 25 lots listed and described in the deed of assignment with the total area of 150 hectares now registered in the name of PTA (now Tieza).”
They also wanted Tieza to execute the deed of reconveyance of the lots in favor of the original owners.
A deed of reconveyance is an official document from a mortgage holder that releases a debtor from the mortgage.
As to the lots not covered by the deed of assignment in favor of PTA, which consists of between 350 and 450 hectares, the petitioners asked Aquino to “direct the Office of the Solicitor General to provide legal assistance and other forms of support to help the former landowners.” (With Princess H. Felicitas/Sun.Star Cebu)
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on February 17, 2014.