Rama to Province: Give us 93-1

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Saturday, March 8, 2014


A CONGRESSIONAL inquiry is sought by a Cebu City councilor on the court ordered demolition of structures of 157 families in Sitio San Miguel, Barangay Apas.

Councilor Alvin Dizon, chairperson of the City Council’s committee on housing, said he will ask Rep. Alfredo Benitez (Negros Occidental, third district) to initiate the move as he is the chairperson of the committee on housing and urban development.

Dizon said he wants the congressional inquiry to determine if there are violations of the rights of the informal settlers during the conduct of the demolition in Apas.

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The manner the demolition was carried out has been questioned by the affected residents.

Dizon pointed out the lack of proper identification of members of the 200 man demolition team, with one of them caught allegedly looting one of the houses being destroyed.

Requirements

The councilor invoked Section 28 of Republic Act 7279, otherwise known as the Urban Development and Housing Act (UDHA) of 1992.

It provides the requirements that must be complied prior to any demolition, including the proper identification of the people participating in the demolition.

Also, Dizon said Congress can look into the ownership issue surrounding the property in Apas.

The property has been declared a friar land by virtue of Executive Order (EO) 20, issued on June 9, 1918 by the Office of the Governor General of the Philippines, and as socialized housing site many years back by the City Government. But it ended up owned by a private individual.

“All angles should be looked into,” Dizon said.

Aside from Apas, the congressional inquiry, Dizon said, can cover the demolition that have been implemented in Metro Manila.

According to the Philippine Universal Periodic Review Watch, Dizon said there are already more than 50 incidents of violent eviction of homes in Metro Manila since 2010.

Communities

This, he said, covered 19 communities and affected more than 16,000 families.

“Thousands of families were left homeless and jobless, millions worth of livelihood and properties were destroyed and many children stopped schooling and were traumatized,” he said.

Over and above the congressional inquiry he is seeking, Dizon wants Benitez’ committee to conduct consultations and dialogue with various housing and urban poor stakeholders in the city and revisit the provisions of the UDHA law.

“It has been 22 years since the law was passed and there is a need to make the law more responsive and relevant to the present times to ensure that the law protects the rights of informal settlers,” he said.

Also, Dizon wants the Supreme Court to issue guidelines on court-ordered demolition to protect the constitutional rights of informal settlers.

Dizon said he will file a resolution during the council’s session on Wednesday to formalize his request to Benitez and the Supreme Court.

Sought for comment about Dizon’s move, Apas Barangay Captain Ramil Ayuman said a congressional inquiry is a welcome development.

This is because what is happening in his barangay is a “systematic land grabbing” that must be addressed, he said.

At City Hall, Mayor Michael Rama urged the Cebu Provincial Government to turn over to the City the lots under the 93-1.

Rama said this after the demolition in Sitio San Miguel.

“I am challenging the Province now because there are so many properties owned by the province. They can turn them over to us. We are not intending to sell them but to help the occupants,” Rama told reporters.

Rama said the City and the Province should work together to solve issues involving lot ownership.

Cebu Gov. Hilario Davide III said he is open to a discussion with Rama about the matter.

“The Province and City are in good terms so we’re open to discussion,” Davide said.

Davide said he would also take it up with the Provincial Board.

He said that if there is an official communication from the City Government, they can start negotiating.

Rama said the City can use the Free Patent Law in the distribution of the lots. Republic Act 1023 or the Free Patent Law allows the government to award public lands to its occupants provided they have been living in the area for the last 10 years and do not own properties in the other parts of the City.

Earlier City has distributed 59 lot titles to its beneficiaries coming from Duljo Fatima and Tinago.

Another requirement of the law states that occupants must not occupy more than 200 square meters. (PDF/RVC/With FMG)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on March 08, 2014.

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