THE Bacolod City Council granted Wednesday Mayor Evelio Leonardia the authority to sign the absolute deed of sale and ratification on the property owned by the Arao.

Councilor Al Victor Espino, chair of the City Council committee on finance, said this now paving the way to release the P250 million loans entered by the City Government between the Philippine Veterans Bank (PVB).

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He said almost 2,000 informal settlers in the city are now facing of demolition, which several of them have a pending court cases for demolition.

The Arao property is adjacent to the existing property in Abada-Escay relocation site with the 58 hectares.

Espino emphasized that this is not only the victory of the Leonardia's administration, "but this is the victory of the people who don't have their own lot."

He noted that the city has applied for P150 million loan for the purchase of the relocation site and P100 million for the development of the city.

He also cited that the savings from the P100 million on the development site of the city would be used to give assistance to the informal settlers to be relocated.

Leonardia, meanwhile, said he signed the deed of sale with fully conscious that there have been concerns raised by some sectors which did not want to go into this loan. "But while I listen to their concerns, I also heard the anguish of the landless and homeless in this city. I still heard the panic and the cries for help like those residents in Barangay 19 who were trapped in that Nov. fire. I heard and take to heart the appeal of anxious residents who have been served ejection notices and have nowhere else to go," he stressed.

"Today I decided on a critical issue only on the basis of nothing but the good of our city and the greater number of our people. I make this decision feeling the same way felt when I decided to proceed with the construction of our new government center four years ago. Had I wavered then, we would never have seen this new landmark; we would never have stimulated the growth of another economic center the way the environs of the NGC is developing today," he added.

The city mayor noted that he signed the deed of sale knowing that aside from the squatters, the entire city is going to be benefitted from this.

"We take an important, historic step towards a better Bacolod. Damn the torpedoes, I will do what is right. I will do what is good for the people," he stressed.

Councilor Dindo Ramos, chair of the City Council committee on housing, said the Arao property is reasonable in price, noting that it's only valued in P220 per square meter, adding that the PVB appraised it in P250 per square meter.

He said through the effort of the city mayor, "he made to deal it into a lower price, which the city saved P30 in per square meter where the city saved almost P18 million."

He added that the relocation project of the city is for the informal settlers of Bacolod.

Meanwhile, different groups and individuals from different barangays in Bacolod City assembled Wednesday at the City Mayor's Office to beg push the P250M loan.

Kongreso ng Pagkakaisa ng mga Maralitang Tagalungsond (KPML), National Executive Committee representative Jun Año said they have already studied this P250M loan based on their Urban Poor Alternative Agenda wherein if the city will buy one relocation site, it must have a complete developmental facilities and basic services.

"KPML has now 33 local organizations here in Bacolod City. The council of leaders of this organization has decided to support this P250M", he added.

These groups of individuals were asking the local executive to pursue this project.

They said, this will be beneficial for all of them, for life in squatter areas seemed to be miserable and always in danger.

They also added that they wanted a safe place for their families for eminent danger is always unpredictable.

Bacolod Housing Authority (BHA) head Josephine Segundino also showed proof Wednesday to the media that the Abada-Escay relocation site in Barangay Granada could no longer accommodate the almost 2,000 families.

"They should check the site plan wherein the area is not for residential only, "Segundino stressed.

She said there were areas that were already allocated for the school, government facilities, jeepney terminal, and market, noting that there's also part of the area intended for commercial purposes.

Segundino also emphasized that the remaining available lots in the said site is only feasible to accommodate for almost 200 families,

She added that the BHA received thousands of applicants for the relocation site, noting they have already absorbed almost 5,000 families in Barangay Handumanan, 600 in Fortune Towne, among others. (Merlinda A. Pedrosa)