AT LEAST 160 families risk losing their homes in a demolition today in Barangay Capitol Site, Cebu City.
The demolition is the second wave of clearing operations being implemented in Barangay Capitol Site. This time, the houses near Don Gil Garcia St. corner Escario St. are covered by the demolition order from Branch 19 of the Regional Trial Court.
In February, 107 families were forced to leave.
Residents have claimed that the government owns the property, but this has been contested by the heirs of Mauricio Quijada.
In the 40 years she has lived in the area, Matrinillo Vergara said, no private person has claimed to own the lot before. “Dugay na gyud mi nga nagpuyo sa among mga pwesto mao nga di gyud mi mopahawa kay sa gobyerno man ni (We have lived here for a long time and we will never leave this government-owned property),” he said.
Vergara is president of the Capitol Site Public Domain Inc., an organization formed by the affected families.
Last week, Vergara and other families filed a motion to stop the demolition and asked the court for a temporary restraining order (TRO) to stop the clearing operations today.
“Malaumon mi nga mapugngan gyud ang demolition kay duna pa man mi pending motion unya ongoing ang mga negotiations (We are hopeful that the demolition won’t proceed because we have a pending motion and the negotiations are ongoing),” he said.
In their motion to be excluded from the writ of demolition, the residents clarified that none of them occupy any part of Lot No. 6085-A, which Quijada’s heirs are claiming.
“Since movants have been in open, continuous and exclusive possession and occupation of the said public land for more than 30 years, with their respective dwelling units or houses constructed hereon, all of them are interested to own the respective lots occupied by them,” read a portion of their motion.
For them to vacate the area, the Quijada family reportedly offered the affected families P180,000 per house.
But because they believe that the lot is public, the residents applied for pre-patent ownership before the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).
In a letter dated June 4, DENR asked Vergara and lawyer Juanita Montesclaros, representing the Quijadas, to appear on July 7 for a conference on the pre-patent ownership application.
A day before the demolition, the families with their lawyer, Reymelio Delute, in the chapel in Barangay Capitol Site to discuss their steps for today’s demolition.
“Bisan unsa’y mahitabo, all of our actions against the demolition will be lawful. Salig mi sa korte nga paminawon mi. Kon walay TRO nga ma-issue, mo-adto mi sa korte (Whatever happens, all of our actions will be lawful. We trust that the court will listen to us. If no TRO is issued, we will go to court again),” Vergara said.