CICC settlers ‘harassed’ by military

CICC settlers ‘harassed’ by military
UP FOR DEMOLITION. The ruins of the Cebu International Convention Center (CICC) in Mandaue City has been sheltering fire victims since 2016. All of them will have to leave soon and move to the housing project the City has promised since the facility is up for demolition later this month. The relocation, though, only applies to the fire victims and not “sharers,” or those who are living with the beneficiaries, and renters. They are the ones allegedly complaining about the notice issued by the Housing and Urban Development Office ordering occupants to voluntarily demolish their structures within 15 days of receipt of notice. / AMPER CAMPAÑA

INFORMAL settlers who have made the Cebu International Convention Center (CICC) their home these past few years claim they have been harassed by elements of the 14th Civil-Military Operations “Katipanan” Battalion since April 2024.

Majority of complainants are relatives and people who are renting from families who were displaced by fires in Mandaue City and were allowed to temporarily reside in the CICC premises.

They sent a press release to SunStar Cebu on Wednesday, June 12, wherein they accused military personnel of entering the CICC repeatedly with a list of members of the Tingob Residents Association (TRA) and photos of the group’s mobilizations that were reportedly provided by the City’s Housing and Urban Development Office (Hudo).

In early May, residents also noticed posters around the CICC depicting them as terrorists, which they believed were part of a campaign to intimidate them.

Mandaue City Administrator Jamaal James Calipayan dismissed their claims.

“Wala kini naghatag og kasigaraduhan kung giharass gyud sila kay so far wala pamay ni reklamo namo diri (This doesn’t certify that they were indeed harassed since, so far, no one has come to our office to complain),” he told SunStar Cebu on Thursday, June 13, 2024, asserting that his office has not received a formal complaint.

The controversy erupted after the Hudo issued on June 6 a notice ordering residents to vacate the CICC premises and voluntarily demolish their structures 15 days within receipt of notice.

The notice said failure to comply would result in the City Government demolishing the structures.

Ursina Torregosa, TRA chairperson, expressed her disappointment with Hudo’s actions.

“We didn’t expect Hudo to send us a notice because they had already promised to relocate all fire victims first to ‘Pasilong sa Paradise,’ then to the newly built Maharlika Tipolo building. Hudo even asked our organization for a list of members to ensure we would be placed in a block at Pasilong, and later in Building 3 of the housing for our organization. We were shocked when they issued a notice just days after we submitted the list,” she said in Cebuano.

She pointed out that this was not the first time Hudo acted against the law to evict them from the property.

“Miskin ang kontra kabus nga RA 7279 section 28 kay ilang gilapas tungod wala man sila’y gibuhat nga konsultasyon sa mga hingtungdan, dili subay sa 30 days ang pagdala sa abiso.,” she said.

(Even though Republic Act 7279, or the Urban Development and Housing Act of 1992, allows demolitions and evictions under certain situations, they still violated the law because they did not consult residents, and they did not notify effected persons at least 30 days prior to the date of eviction or demolition.)

The notice has allegedly left residents feeling worried, upset and angry, exacerbating the tension within the community.

But Calipayan dismissed their allegations as not true, groundless and baseless.

He said the notice does not imply immediate demolition.

“Naghatag og notice ang Hudo sa 15 days before sa demolition or else ang LGU na ang mobuhat. It doesn’t mean nga i-demolish na namo dayun. Amo pa nang planohan una,” he said.

(Hudo issued a notice 15 days before to demolish or else the local government unit will conduct the demolition. It doesn’t mean that we will demolish right there and then. We still have to plan the operation.)

The TRA believes the alleged harassment is a form of intimidation to discourage residents from uniting and demanding housing security.

“The united poor in Mandaue City condemns the series of harassments, broken promises and other violations of the basic human rights of CICC residents, especially in their right to organize and seek housing security, which has culminated in the issuance of the eviction notice,” the statement read in Cebuano.

Calipayan emphasized that the LGU prioritizes the around 500 families who were displaced in fires in Barangay Guizo in 2016 and Sitios Basubas and Maharlika in Barangay Tipolo in 2019, who are currently taking shelter at the CICC.

Sharers and renters, he said, are not considered for relocation.

“Majority of the complainants are sharers and renters since they are not included in the housing that the City will provide. Only the beneficiaries will be housed. These sharers and renters are not even supposed to be there. Most of them are staying with parents who are the actual housing beneficiaries,” Calipayan said in Cebuano.

The Mandaue City Government plans to start demolishing the CICC in July. Relocation of housing beneficiaries is scheduled later this month.

Marina Pam-ot, a beneficiary, has been living at the CICC for five years. She said she is ready to leave anytime, and is excited to relocate to her new home.

“Wala raman sad ko naapektuhan sa abiso sa Hudo kay beneficiary man jud ko daan diri (I am not affected by the Hudo notice because I am one of the original housing beneficiaries)”, Pam-ot said. / CAV

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