CEBU Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia has clarified that the Province does not intend to drive out the occupants of the 25-hectare property in Barangay Jagobiao in Mandaue City that the Capitol claims as its own, saying the provincial government is willing to assist them in legitimizing their stay—if they will recognize Capitol’s ownership of the land.

In a press conference Thursday, Sept. 22, 2022, Garcia said she offered to help the Eversley Childs Sanitarium and General Hospital (ECSGH), Department of Health-Treatment and Rehabilitation Center (DOH-TRC) Cebu City, Barangay Hall, National Housing Authority (NHA), and Food and Drug Administration legitimize their stay in the property owned by the provincial government.

Garcia said the Province is willing to enter into a 25-year usufruct agreement which can also be renewable for another 25 years considering that the current occupants have no documents to show to prove that they own the lot.

“Wala mi papahawaon kon moangkon lang sa lehitimo nga katungod sa probinsya sa Sugbo nianang yutaa. Pangitaan pa’g paagi nga mahimong lehitimo ang inyong pag-okupar anha diha nga yuta,” she said. (We will not drive anyone out if they just recognize the legitimate right of the Province of Cebu to that land. We will even find a way to legitimize your occupation of that land.)

The governor showed the certified true copies of the documents, including the deed of donation of the 25-hectare property which she said had been donated to the Province by the Archdiocese of Cebu, particularly by Bishop Juan Gorordo, who reportedly initiated the donation in the year 1930.

She said this was accepted through another document or Resolution 1216 of the Cebu Provincial Board on Oct. 16, 1930, which was signed by then Cebu provincial governor Mariano Jesus Cuenco.

Garcia said the administrations after Cuenco’s may just have forgotten about these documents.

Garcia said she was alerted to this during her second term as congresswoman when Fr. Dan delos Angeles asked her to assert the right of the Province to the property that was donated by the Archdiocese should she run for governor again.

During her series of meetings with the stakeholders a few months ago, Garcia said she showed them the documents. Yet, they still insisted and refused to give a “letter of no objection,” although they had nothing to show to prove their ownership.

Garcia said only the NHA 7 responded, stating its official position that it will not object to or contest the claim of the Province over the lots that are subject to Presidential Proclamation 1772.

Certainly, Garcia said, they will work with the NHA to continue the titling and subdivide the land area since the Capitol could receive money as payment, which she can return to Cebu Province constituents in terms of infrastructure, programs and services.

She said it makes them wonder how ECSGH, which was funded by the Department of Health (DOH), was able to construct its buildings on a piece of property it had no document to prove that it owned.

“First of all, daghan kaayo mo anang dapat tubagon (there are many questions you ought to answer), how public funds was spent to build such infrastructure on a property that has no clear ownership by the concerned agency,” she said.

Garcia reportedly asked the hospital what authority it had to allow other government agencies to construct some structures within the 25-hectare lot, but the latter reportedly said it would just refer the matter to the Solicitor General, which the governor said is the lamest excuse that one can give.

The governor said she is fighting for this in accordance with clear documentary evidence that such property rightfully belongs to the province of Cebu.

“Og di ni nako panalipdan, ako sad ang nitalikod sa akong katungdanan (If I don’t protect this, I would be committing) dereliction of duty ko, especially since I was already alerted about this.” said Garcia.

The governor said she is fully aware of her responsibilities and duties and will fulfill them no matter the political cost.

She also questioned why the other occupants refused to make a statement that they do not object that the Province owns the property where their structures stand.

Garcia said she would wish for the hospital to continue staying there, but it just needs to recognize that the lot is owned by the Province.

“Dili mo papahawaon diha ang Eversley Childs Sanitarium and General Hospital, pero kadto hinuong mga empleyado ug mga nagdako-dako sa Eversley nga nag-claim og ilaha nang ubang yuta diha, aw manubag mo adto basin ma-Ombudsman pa mog apil,” she added.

(Eversley Childs Sanitarium and General Hospital will not be evicted, but those employees and officials of Eversley claiming that they own the other lots there, well, you will have to answer that, and you might be included among those facing the Ombudsman.)

Garcia said the DOH 7 already informed the Capitol through a letter signed by Director Jaime Bernadas that it interposes no objection to the claims of the provincial government, including its plans and propositions subject to the final position of the DOH secretary.

The Provincial Legal Office (PLO) had sent a demand letter dated Sept. 8 to the stakeholders, including Dr. Pythagoras Zerna, chief of ECSGH; Dr. Jasmine Peralta, chief of the DOH-TRC Cebu City; and Michael Masinas, Jagobiao barangay captain, to vacate the lot within 15 days after receipt of the letter.

Garcia on Thursday said she was forced to send the demand letters since the stakeholders reportedly refused to recognize that the Capitol owned the lot.

Mandaue City Mayor Jonas Cortes on Wednesday assured the stakeholders that the city government would endeavor to resolve the issue on ownership of the land.

Zerna told SunStar Cebu that he appreciates the mayor’s statement, saying that Cortes is well aware of the history of Eversley being one of the heritage structures of Mandaue.

Peralta, for her part, said she was looking for the best things to come, and that they are just waiting for the DOH officials to act on it.

Peralta earlier expressed hope that the Capitol would donate the lot where the ECSGH and the rehabilitation center are situated.