Official clarifies demolition of seaside settlers

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Monday, March 12, 2012


THE Island Garden City of Samal (Igacos) is not contesting Sama Tribe’s claim over ancestral domain but is just securing the welfare of informal settlers and implementing the ordinance on fish landing when the local government demolished seaside settlements, an official said Monday.

City Administrator Cleto Gales Jr., during Monday's Kapehan sa Dabaw at SM Davao, made the clarification in response to the tribe's allegation of illegal demolition against the local government of Samal.

Sama Tribe is claiming ancestral domain covering approximately 80,000 hectares, but the land area of Igacos only covers about 30,000 hectares, he said.

"Sinali nila ang dagat sa kanilang ancestral domain (They are claiming the sea as part of their ancestral domain)," he said.

He emphasized that no Certification of Ancestral Domain Title (CADT) has been issued yet and that application for a CADT has not even started yet.

Gales said the demolition is part of the city's plan to relocate informal settlers living along the coastal areas in preparation for calamities that may occur due to climate change.

"We want coastal areas to be free from infrastructures," he said, adding they would strictly implement it to all settlers, be they formal or informal.

He also emphasized that the local government's danger zone extends from the sea up to the coastal lands and that residential houses are not advised to be built along shorelines.

"Of 46 barangays, 31 are identified as coastal," Gales said. So far, affected by demolitions are Barangays Balet, Camudmud, and sitio Pigasaan in Barangay Tagbay.

Only one of 17 families in Pigasaan refused to be relocated. Another one family of 12 in Balet refused, and three in Camudmud out of 38 families.

He said that sometime in 2011, 16 families in Camudmud who are not even original residents of Samal were claiming ancestral domain.

He said they provided relocation sites for families affected by the demolition, each given 75 square meters of lot.

"It's for free," he added, saying relocation sites are still near shorelines since those affected are fisherfolk.

Another issue to which the city administrator raised in defense to the action of the government on informal settlers is about social justice.

"We don't want our fisherfolk left with nothing in terms of fish landing area to dock their boats," he added while explaining that if shorelines will be congested with infrastructures, no docking area will be put in place for local fishermen.

"Fish landing area was already institutionalized through a barangay ordinance and was approved by the Sangguniang Panglungsod (City Council)," he said while announcing that Igacos was the first to implement it all over the country.

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on March 13, 2012.

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