DESPITE last-minute efforts of residents to save their houses, a tense demolition was carried out yesterday on a privately owned lot in Sitio Sta. Cruz, Barangay Capitol Site, Cebu City.

Homeowners, most of them women, formed a human barricade yesterday morning before the clearing started.

But that attempt to block the operation failed when El Cid Caballes, court sheriff of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 19, implemented the demolition order an hour before lunch time yesterday.

The demolition was scheduled at 9 a.m. but a light drizzle also delayed it.

Around 100 houses, which were built on a lot immediately after the sidewalk near Don Gil Garcia St. corner Escario St., were included in the demolition order issued by RTC 19 Judge Wilfredo Navarro. But yesterday’s operation was only intended for some 30 houses whose owners did not avail themselves of the payment the lot owner had offered.

Affected residents argued their houses should not be demolished because the lot is public domain and the writ of demolition covers only the houses on Lot 6085-A-1, in an interior portion of Sitio Sta. Cruz.

As of yesterday, at least 10 houses were destroyed. The team will continue clearing today.

YY Company has reportedly bought Lot 6085-A-1 from the heirs of Mauricio Quijada.

There were complaints why Caballes spared some of the houses from the demolition yesterday, adding that the order should apply to all.

For his part, Caballes said he spared some of the houses because the owners had availed themselves of the payment the lot owner offered, as part of a compromise.

But even with the compromise, they will be evicted. They will just get enough time to transfer their things.

Those who availed themselves of the payment reportedly got at least P180,000 from the lot owners.

During the demolition, residents shouted at the team while some got emotional, including children who saw their houses being destroyed.

The clearing operation was halted for a few minutes after a wire owned by a telecommunication company sparked.

A fire truck from Barangay Guadalupe arrived at the scene.

Around 70 men were hired by Caballes for the demolition team.

All of them wore identification cards during the clearing operation yesterday, contrary to some residents’ claim that they did not.

At least 30 uniformed police personnel from Police Station 2 and Cebu City Police Office, including more than 10 members of the Special Weapons and Tactics squad, went to the area.

Matranillo Vergara, head of the Public Domain Association of Barangay Capitol Site, the group of the affected residents, said what the demolition team did was inhuman and illegal.

Ang mga bata ug tiguwang naa pa sa sulod sa ilang balay deretso lang sila ug guba ngari, wa man gyod gani sila mananghid or advance notice na man lang (They barged into houses that still had some elderly residents and children inside. They failed to give any notice),” Vergara said.

Capitol Site Barangay Captain Manuel Guanzon, who intervened yesterday, said that the barangay will not determine an area where the residents can take temporary shelter.

Instead, he told them to rebuild their houses once the demolition ends. “Ayaw mo ug kahadlok, tukod mo ug balik inig lakaw nila kay inyo nang katungod (Don’t be afraid. Rebuild as soon as they leave because that is within your rights),” Guanzon said.

Because they believe that the lot is public, the residents have applied for pre-patent ownership before the Department of Environment and Natural Resources 7.