Politico’s promise to M. Velez St. holdouts

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Tuesday, February 11, 2014


EIGHTEEN thousand pesos is admittedly a paltry sum for the informal settler trying to rebuild his life. It will not get him far especially if no relocation site is being provided for him and his family.

Eighteen thousand pesos was, I was told, exactly the amount that the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) agreed to give the residents who were affected by the widening of M. Velez St. near the Capitol. Some took the money and moved but a few others have decided to stay even if they already had an agreement with the DPWH to vacate the government lot that they were and still are occupying.

Yes, it’s a government lot that they’re occupying and it is the government that now wants to use its property to expand the road and solve the perennial traffic bottleneck in the vicinity. The P18,000 was supposed to be for “disturbance fee” and the informal settlers have accepted the amount, except for a few holdouts.

Unfortunately, the recalcitrant ones have managed to tie up the project to the consternation of motorists who have to endure the gridlock on a small patch of M. Velez on a daily basis.

The uncooperative ones are reportedly being led by a lawyer but my sources tell me that it not he who has emboldened them in their defiance. Rather, it is supposed to be high city government official who promised to work on the increase of the “disturbance fee” from P18,000 to something more reasonable.

There’s nothing wrong about politicians making promises for as long as they keep them.

Unfortunately, this particular politico has apparently forgotten his and that is the long story of the logjam made short.

Mayor Mike Rama was asked about what he will do about the road project that has been ongoing for more than five years. He replied by asking for the name of the judge who is handling the case so that he could visit him and, although he didn’t say it, perhaps apply pressure on him to resolve the case.

I had expected him to say that he was going to look for the top city public official who promised to give the residents more than P18,000 and ask him to put his pocket where his mouth is. But he did not and so to harassed motorists like Dean Alex Monteclar, here’s fair warning: you may have to grin and bear it until the mayor is able to convince the judge to convince the affected residents to remove their obstruction.

***

Because we are a hospitable people, it is very difficult for us to tell our guests that they have overstayed their welcome. Bidding them to go is a very sensitive matter.

There used to be 70 families living in the tent city at the South Road Properties but 16 of them have since gone home to Leyte. How to convince the 54 to follow suit can be a major headache.

That is because some of them have expressed reluctance to leave. In an interview on TV 5’s Aksyon Bisaya, one of them was quoted as saying that they have nothing to go home to and would prefer to stay in Cebu City.

I don’t think that was the intention when the city built the so-called Family Rebuilding Center. The tents were meant to be a temporary stop for the victims of typhoon Yolanda, not a permanent residence.

Well, if the typhoon victims want to stay in Cebu, they’re most welcome but they have to compete with everybody else in the search for food, employment, shelter and other basic necessities. We believe in equal opportunity for everyone in all respects including living off the charity of our government.

(frank.otherside@yahoo.com)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on February 11, 2014.

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