UP expansion to displace 120 families

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Sunday, March 16, 2014


STILL reeling from back-to-back demolitions recently, the Cebu City Government may have yet to deal with more than a hundred families at risk of losing their homes with UP Cebu’s plan of expanding its campus.

University of the Philippine’s (UP) expansion project would displace 120 families. The unused UP Cebu lot has over 1,000 residents.

Gov. Hilario Davide III called for a meeting with UP Cebu officials headed by Dean Liza Corro, Rep. Raul del Mar (Cebu City, north district) and Councilor Alvin Dizon, among others.

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Lawyer Dominador Cafe, the legal counsel of the Lahug Central Homeowners Association (LCHOA), was surprised that the association was not invited to the meeting.

Dizon was surprised, too, but said LCHOA will be invited to a third meeting by the end of the month or first week of April.

Cafe was able to attend the first meeting late last year.

During the meeting last Friday, Dizon learned that UP Cebu intends to start with the expansion project within the year because there is already an appropriation for it. If the appropriation is not used within the year, it will be reverted back to the National Treasury.

“I told them that the project should not push through without proper consultation with the affected residents. So my recommendation to Gov. Davide was to invite the affected residents in the next meeting,” Dizon told Sun.Star Cebu.

Last Friday, Cebu City north district Rep. Raul Del Mar and Councilor Alvin Dizon met with Cebu Gov. Hilario Davide III to discuss the matter.

Davide said he already talked with Corro and they agreed to hold a dialogue with the affected families.

Capitol donated five parcels of land, or about 14 hectares, to UP 50 years ago.

The deed of donation was signed by then governor Francisco Remotigue and Dr. Carlos P. Romulo, who served as UP’s president at that time.

Capitol also donated a two-storey building known as the Cebu Junior College located in the donated lot.

Under the terms of donation, the property will be returned to the Province once the university decided to close the Cebu Junior College.

Take back

The Lahug Central Homeowners’ Association, then, asked Capitol to take back the property from UP since the Cebu Junior College no longer exists.

But according to Davide, the property still belongs to UP after he learned from provincial real estate administrator Paul Entera that the main building used to be the site of Cebu Junior College.

But Cafe believes Capitol is “lukewarm” in helping them.

“We will meet them in court. But in terms of legality, Capitol should try to have the property reverted as it has the reversionary rights,” said Cafe.

Cafe said if the expansion project of UP is in good faith, it would be done at the spacious UP High School.

He theorized that UP Cebu wants to be like UP Diliman, which is like a small city on its own with an internal transportation system and commercial establishments.

If UP Cebu decides to file an ejectment case against the residents Cafe believes LCHOA has a strong defense against the suit.

However, if a third meeting is called, LCHOA is inclined to attend to listen to UP Cebu’s plan.

But it should be in an accessible place like the Lahug Elementary School.

“There should be consultation and the Cebu City Government should officially intervene because we are facing left and right demolitions as of the moment,” said Dizon.

With about 50 more cases of demolition and eviction in Cebu City, there is an urgent need to make relocation sites available for the informal settlers.

Site development

Dizon, chairperson of the committee on housing, has asked the Division for the Welfare of the Urban Poor (DWUP), to provide the Cebu City Council with a list of site development projects.

The City approved an appropriation of P50 million for site development projects in the City divided as P20 million for the south district and P30 million for the north district. The budget allocation was in the 2013 annual budget.

“The purpose of the appropriation was to provide funds to develop City-owned relocation sites to make them safer and more habitable in accordance with the rights of beneficiaries to have adequate and decent housing,” the resolution penned by Dizon and approved by the Council read.

In his earlier report, Dizon said there are 100 uninhabitable lots owned by Cebu City in seven identified relocation sites.

Informal settlers, particularly those victims of demolition and eviction refuse to transfer to these places because these are not conducive for building homes.

Some have steep slopes and others are not accessible due to the lack of road network.

Cafe also that if the demolition pushes through, where would the residents go? The City has already admitted that it doesn’t have suitable relocation sites.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on March 17, 2014.

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