WITH the expiration of their contracts last December, at least 2,000 families are asking the Cebu City Council to intervene and extend their agreement under the slum improvement and resettlement (SIR) program.

They have asked Mayor Tomas Osmeña to approve their “loan restructuring and penalty condonation” proposal.

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At least 2,600 families were the identified recipients of the program when the National Government implemented it in four barangays in the 1970s.

City Administrator Francisco Fernandez said there could be more occupants now because many have also settled in lots declared as open spaces.

The City just took over the program.

City Councilor Richard Osmeña has crafted a measure seeking the extension of the beneficiaries’s contracts for six months, while their request is still being heard by the Local Housing Board.

But the council has yet to act on the request, particularly by the residents of Sitio Alaska, Barangay Mambaling.

Fernandez considered the program a failure because even if the required payment for original occupants is just P50 per square meter, at least half of the beneficiaries have not paid their dues to the City.

That is why, he said, the request of those occupying the open spaces for the SIR program to be expanded cannot even be accommodated.

“Why would we spend good money on a bad investment? Mora ta’g buang ani magpadayon sa proyekto nga palpak, nga mas dako pa ang gasto sa pangolekta kaysa nakolek-ta (It would be foolish to continue a failed project, where the cost of collecting is larger than the expected collections),” he told leaders of the beneficiaries when they sought his help last June.

In that meeting, about 100 persons went to Fernandez’s office, after they were told that those who had not fully paid their obligations would be ejected by the end of 2009.

Fernandez also lamented that the SIR was meant to improve the slums, but the sites in Alaska and Barangays Sawang Calero, Suba and Pasil are still a mess.

He had said that it is up to the mayor and the city council to decide on their proposal.

He, however, proposed that those occupying open spaces will follow the “Pagbanhaw” model implemented in Mambaling after a fire a year ago displaced the Badjao communities and other residents.

The fire victims helped provide manpower to rebuild their homes in exchange for food.

Through the program, the fire victims, who are illegal settlers, pay just P10 a day as rent for the next 10 years.

In a resolution, officers of the Alagad nga Lumolopyo Alang sa Kalambu-an Federation said they fear possible eviction in 2010, upon termination of the contract between the City and the beneficiaries.

“Most occupants have been delinquent in their obligations on the land amortization for the past 25 years, more or less,” they said.

Fernandez assured that those who have paid will not be evicted, while those who have not fully settled their dues still have a chance to negotiate with the city.