‘More time needed to demolish houses’

[Dindo Buillag Jr Photo]
[Dindo Buillag Jr Photo]

Barangay 12 Captain JR Alcantara of Bacolod City has asked the assistance of Mayor Alfredo Abelardo Benitez to give them enough time to demolish the houses of the affected residents for the development of Manokan Country.

Alcantara said Wednesday, November 15, that the city government is now conducting a survey to determine the total number of houses that will be affected by the development of Manokan Country, which will be implemented next year.

He said the city government did not inform him that some of the residents in Barangay 12 would be part of the demolition.

He added that those who will be affected by the demolition are those occupying the government lot in the area, which is composed of at least 60 houses, including in Purok Malipayon.

Alcantara noted that last week, he attended a meeting with the City Legal Office along with SM Prime Holdings Inc. and Bacolod Housing Authority (BHA) and they agreed to first identify the affected area.

Alcantara said it’s the plan of SM to demolish the affected houses next month to start the construction of the new building in Manokan Country.

He said two of his barangay kagawads will also be affected by the demolition, and there was no dialogue conducted between them and the city.

"We did not know if the city would provide relocation sites to the affected residents. At first, we assumed that only the Manokan Country tenants would be removed from the area,” he added.

On October 20, the city government of Bacolod signed a contract agreement with SM Prime for the redevelopment of the iconic Manokan Country.

SM Prime also turned over P131.89 million to Bacolod City, which represents the seven years of advance rental payments for Manokan Country under the 40-year lease agreement with the city at an annual rental fee of P21.26 million, subject to a 5 percent escalation rate every three years.

The tenants will transfer to their temporary area at the parking lot of the nearby SM City Bacolod from January to March 2024.

"It's our appeal to Mayor Benitez to follow the process in the demolition of the affected residents. It’s the appeal of my constituents to transfer them after the closing of classes next year. We are not against the development of the city; we are only asking to give us six months to demolish the houses,” Alcantara said.

He said City Legal Officer Romeo Carlos Ting Jr. informed them that the affected residents will be given financial assistance only, without a relocation area.

"For us, it’s not reasonable. We need the relocation site for our affected residents,” he added.

Alcantara disclosed that they will send a letter to Benitez to consider their sentiments.

For his part, Benitez said the BHA is now conducting a survey to determine the total number of affected residents in Barangay 12.

He said the city will provide relocation to the affected residents.

“It’s part of our program to provide relocation to those houses that will be demolished,” he added.*

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