Tent City dwellers’ complaint

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Saturday, January 4, 2014


THERE are controversies that I hope would finally be resolved by the courts this year. One of them is the Rallos case.

Ordinarily, the case should have already found closure. When the Supreme Court says that its decision is final and executory, then it is final and executory.

But Mayor Michael Rama believes that the High Court and the courts below have been misled into issuing a judgment against the city because a material document, called the “convenio” has not been presented at the trial or on review.

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On that basis, he caused the filing of a petition to annul the decision that the Supreme Court had not only affirmed but declared final and ripe for execution. The local Court of Appeals then temporarily stayed the execution of the judgment through a restraining order and later, a writ of preliminary injunction.

That was months ago, but the case has not moved because reportedly, most of the justices of the CA in Cebu have inhibited from it.

I will not discuss the merits of the petition because I do not want to be cited in contempt. But I would like to point out that the financial risk that the city faces grows with each day that the petition remains unresolved.

The questioned judgment, you see, not only awarded millions of pesos to the Rallos heirs but also allowed the latter to collect interest on the same until it is fully paid. From what I gathered, the interest is P800,000 a month or a staggering P9.6 million a year.

I have repeatedly written that I would be happy if the city wins the case because that would mean saving a lot money that could then be used for basic social services. But what if, knock on wood, it loses?

We have a time bomb ticking and it is only the Court that can defuse it.

***

Settlers in the Tent City should, by all means, be encouraged to imbibe the value of self-help. I also agree that the earlier they are weaned away from doleouts, the better for their dignity.

I am, therefore, happy to learn that Tent City residents, mostly evacuees from Leyte, have organized themselves to take care of common concerns, including their security. This act of self-empowerment indicates that they are, to a certain extent, ready to return to normal life and chart their own destiny.

On the other hand, nobody should forget that the Tent City inhabitants are still our guests. We have welcomed them with open arms and continue to treat them warmly as one would treat a brother or a sister in need of compassion and understanding. If they don’t want that anymore, let them say so but nicely.

I was turned off by the interview of their self-appointed leader and spokesperson who said that they are not really poor people and should not be treated as such by those who want to help them. He was explaining why there was a need to regulate the entry of donations to the Tent City.

He complained that some people who came to the Tent City with donations acted as if the evacuees were destitute. I do not know what he meant or how that could even happen. What I know is that people give to those whom they think are in need.

Some of them may have been really rich and prosperous until Yolanda came and are beginning to become uncomfortable with our solicitousness.

That is perfectly understandable. Still, that does not give them the right to deny entry to, or screen the givers
or their gifts. If they don’t want to receive anything, let them just say no so we can go to the next tent.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on January 05, 2014.

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