CEBU City Councilor Alvin Dizon appealed to Acting Mayor Edgardo Labella to approve the ordinance imposing a one-year moratorium on City Hall-initiated demolition on public lands.

In a letter to Labella, Dizon pointed out that the measure does not tolerate professional and illegal squatting. Rather, it strengthens the City’s capacity to provide decent and adequate relocation to under-privileged residents as required by Republic Act (RA) 7279 or the Urban Development and Housing Act (UDHA) of 1992.

He lamented that while the UDHA allows evictions and demolitions when persons or entities occupy danger areas and other public places, and when government infrastructure projects are about to be implemented, the same law also requires “to render it mandatory and without exception that in the execution of demolition orders involving underprivileged and homeless citizens, the eight (8) requirements provided under Section 28 thereof must be complied with.”

“The purpose of the ordinance imposing a moratorium is not to sanction a free ticket to worry-free living in danger areas for one year. Rather, it seeks to give the City Government time to plan and prepare for the eventual and inevitable demolitions that are compliant with the mandate of RA 7279,” the councilor said.

Section 3 of Dizon’s ordinance states that the moratorium only applies to existing structures.

Not automatic

Dizon also clarified that the moratorium will not automatically make the informal settler a socialized housing beneficiary.

“I am humbly and respectfully requesting you to keep an open mind and heart to the purpose of this legislative measure. Let us remember that when the City demolishes a house without due regard for the law, we do not just bring down a structure. We ultimately destroy a home, the family and the individual lives of the people in it,” he said.

When the council first approved the ordinance last year, suspended Mayor Michael Rama vetoed it.

But Dizon filed it again after several urban poor families appealed to pass the ordinance, saying it promotes housing rites.

A copy of the approved ordinance was sent to Labella last Jan. 27. He has 10 days to act on it.

In an interview, Labella said he has yet to decide on the matter and will study it carefully.

“I cannot question the noble intention of the proponents of the ordinance. But we have to look into the legal ramifications because it is not enough that the intention is noble but we have to see to it that it will not be in conflict with the existing national statutes,” he added.