THIRTY-NINE housing units were demolished in Sitio Casia, Barangay Bankal in Lapu-Lapu City, causing residents to be displaced and seven people to be arrested after resisting a demolition order.
On Tuesday, Nov. 28, 2023, 39 houses were demolished at a privately owned lot in Barangay Bankal, and on Nov. 29 residents and activists tried to halt the second round of the demolition which led to the demolition of 13 houses.
A total of 52 houses have been demolished, and demolition is expected to continue with the remaining 26 houses on the lot.
Demolition was initially set to begin in 2022 but was delayed after the local government unit and residents of Sitio Casia negotiated with the owner of the property to establish a lease agreement.
A court order signed by Presiding Judge Genevieve Tabada-Lawas on June 8, 2023, showed that Court Sheriff Giovanni Jamon was deputized to implement the writ of demolition dated July 1, 2021.
Writ of demolition
The writ of demolition referred to two court judgments dating back to Nov. 16, 2006, and Feb. 15, 2007, which ruled in favor of the lot owner, Eulalia Mangura, who is represented by her daughter Elizabeth Mangura-Frio.
Mangura-Frio filed a complaint for forcible entry and sought ejectment as well as payment for damages and attorney’s fees.
“The evidence shows that the plaintiff was unlawfully deprived by the defendants of the possession, use and enjoyment of their property through strategy and stealth,” according to the court document.
The courts decided in favor of Mangura since they had enough evidence to prove that she was deprived of her property by the residents who built houses and other structures on her lot covering 21,874 square meters between June and July 2006.
“Since the defendants are occupying the plaintiff’s land without any legal basis, the plaintiff has the right to eject them from the premises in question,” the document stated.
However, residents claimed that a motion to revive the 2006 and 2007 decisions was already dismissed in 2022 due to lack of merit. The residents also argued that they were not informed ahead of time about the impending demolition in the area.
Junnel Campilan, a resident of the lot for five years, told SunStar Cebu that he was among the residents displaced due to the demolition, of which they had not been given prior notice.
Campilan said residents were surprised by the sudden appearance of police and other uniformed personnel. He said the sheriff should have served the demolition papers 30 days before the demolition.
“Ang hitabo, sir, nakalitan ang mga residente. Mao tong nagmugna ug kagubot,” said Campilan.
(The residents were surprised. That’s what created the chaos.)
Campilan said he is worried since they have no other location to relocate to. He said they would stay in the area until they were given a place to relocate to.
“Sukad pagdemolish hangtud karon, unsa na man lang among pangunsumo ani, naa pa me mga bata? Sukad pagdemolish, wala me nadawat nga mga hinabang,” said Campilan.
(Since the demolition began, we have not received any assistance. What can we use to feed ourselves and our children now?)
Jaime Paglinawan, chairman of the Alyansa sa mga Mamumuo sa Sugbo-Kilusang Mayo Uno (AMA Sugbo-KMU), told SunStar Cebu that they are demanding the immediate release of the seven activists, known as the Bankal 7, who helped residents resist the demolition.
These are Lito Padillon and Cris Gabutan, members of the Casia Matab-ang Residence Association (Camara), who were arrested on Nov. 28.
Arrested on Nov. 29 were Marjhun Amoroto and Belt Sasar, Camara members; Howell Villacrucis, Secretary-General of AMA Sugbo-KMU; Keil Galon, chairperson of Anakbayan Cebu; and Deviemar Opo, a member of Anakbayan Lapu-Lapu City.