TWENTY-TWO residents in Sitio San Miguel, Barangay Apas, Cebu City, have filed an administrative complaint before the Office of the Ombudsman-Visayas against the Cebu Provincial Government.
The residents said the Provincial Attorney’s Office failed to void the title issued to a private individual over Lots 942 and 947, a property near the Asiatown IT Park.
“We would like to inform you that sooner or later, we will be a subject of demolition if and when the Province of Cebu will not take steps in protecting its properties,” the residents, through their lawyers Escolastico Daitol and Feliciano Lope Payot III, said.
In 2014, around 157 homes in the two lots were already ordered demolished by the court, saying they are owned by Aleth Suico-Magat and her siblings.
However, the houses of the 22 residents were spared and they continue to live in the disputed properties.
In their complaint to the anti-graft office, the residents recalled that Lots 942 and 947 form part of the 3,000-ha. friar estate in Cebu City and Mandaue City that were acquired by the National Government.
Through an executive order, they said the Province was able to purchase on installment the entire friar lands.
Its purpose supposedly is for public use, public school site, public plaza and public roads, among others, and in case of sale or lease, the actual settlers and occupants of the lots should be given statutory preferential right to acquire them.
The residents said Lots 942 and 947, which have an aggregate area of 9,753-sq.m., were never devoted for public use nor was it conveyed by the Province through a deed of exchange, donation or sale.
The two lots, though, were expropriated for the expansion of then Lahug Airport but it was not realized since the airport was transferred to Mactan, they said.
Because of this, the residents believed that the two properties automatically still form part of the friar lands owned by the Province.
They then pointed out that even before the expansion of the Lahug airport, they have already been living in the area as early as 1976 or for 40 years already.
The residents said Magat and her siblings claimed ownership of the two properties since they allegedly inherited it from their father Santiago Suyco.
The family got a title of the property allegedly on the basis of a deed of exchange they entered into with the Province. However, the title was reportedly lost during the World War II.
But the residents said the Department of Environment and Natural Resources issued a certification in March 2014 that Lots 942 and 947 are still owned by the Province.
“This matter was brought to the attention of the Province and said political entity, through the office of the provincial attorney, maintains and still maintained that no deed of exchange has been entered between the Province and the late Suyco,” the complaint reads.
“However, despite several follow ups, the Province never take step or action to file a complaint or declare as null and void the title issued in the name of Suyco,” it added.
The residents believe this constitutes violation of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.
They are asking the Ombudsman to intervene so they will not be evicted from their current home lots.
The administrative complaint was filed before the anti-graft office last June 27.