Bzzzzz: City Hall mishandling issue on U.P. lots, fire victims

AS the facts are sorted out on the controversy over the lots occupied by “informal settlers” at the University of the Philippines (U.P.) Cebu College who were displaced by a recent fire, the disturbing conclusion is that Cebu City Hall crisis managers may have botched their job.

They wanted to show that they cared about the plight of the fire victims but they have apparently deceived them.

City Hall doesn’t own the property. U.P. does.

The school hasn’t given up its right of ownership. It has been fighting for its use of the property, but has been fiercely resisted by the illegal settlers.

U.P. isn’t going to use the land for business or profit. It wants to expand its service of quality public education at minimal cost, including scholarships to poor students.

U.P. won’t just evict them. With the province, it has prepared a relocation site for the fire victims with no more fear of being evicted.

Not all the victims deserve help. Many were engaged in business at the site, profiting from their structures on land they don’t own.

City Hall can help the fire victims, as any local government should, but it didn’t have to mislead the fire victims to believe the land is for the city to divide and allocate.

The acting mayor (AM) said the City would buy the lots -- an admission it doesn’t own them -- but its officials are behaving as if the LGU already owned the property. Besides, can it expropriate from another government entity land that has a long-assigned public purpose, namely, affordable A-1 public education?

* * *

Politics? But of course

Political motive of City Hall officials identified with Team Rama is the likely suspect.

Team Rama’s force in Lahug has been diminished by the defection of Councilor Mary Ann de los Santos. The U.P. lots issue has provided the Rama camp the chance to win votes from the fire victims.

Mary Ann, of course, is also politicking but she has not hidden the truth, as City Hall obviously has, regarding ownership of the land and the right of the victims to resume using it.

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‘RL’ slogan used against RL

“Rule of law,” which has been SM (suspended mayor) Mike Rama’s catchphrase, is being hurled back to RL (Rama-Labella), the duo using and benefiting from it.

Rule of law was trampled upon when City Hall managers took down U.P. Cebu’s tents on the fire area and took them away. Rule of law flew out the window when city managers behaved as if the city government, whose authority they invoke, owned the U.P. land.

R and L, charge their rivals, are lawyers and should know better. That R and L have been flaunting the mantra has sharpened the inconsistency.

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