Looking for a win-win solution

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Monday, March 10, 2014

MY DEAREST friend Globe executive Jerry Yntig is confined in the Intensive Care Unit of the Cebu Doctors’ Hospital after he suffered a stroke the other Sunday.

I was informed by his immediate family members that JY, as he’s popularly known, is in serious condition. Let us pray for his immediate recovery. Boss JY, get well soon so we can sing “The Way You Look Tonight” and “Kahit Isang Saglit.”

Cebu City Councilor Alvin Dizon is drafting a resolution requesting the House of Representatives to conduct a congressional inquiry on the impending demolition of some 157 houses in Sitio San Miguel, Barangay Apas. Dizon’s resolution is scheduled to be deliberated on Wednesday during the council’s regular session. If approved, it will be addressed to Rep. Alfredo Benitez, chairman of the committee on housing and urban development.


Dizon said his intention is to look into the alleged violations committed by the court sheriff and the demolition team in the initial conduct of the demolition.

A minor was hired as one of the members of the demolition team. Also, he wants to revisit the 22-year-old Republic Act 7279, or the Urban Development and Housing Act (Udha) of 1992, a law that protects informal settlers from arbitrary demolition.

He said some provisions of the law were not strictly followed when the demolition was initially carried out.

For me, Dizon’s move is just a waste of government funds and time for our congressmen to come to Cebu and conduct a congressional inquiry if we just focused on that Apas issue.

We have already a law that protects minors from being exploited. That is why the Department of Labor and Employment came into the picture when it learned a minor had been hired.

Dizon said it’s high time the Udha law should be revisited for possible amendments to go with the times. What’s wrong with the law? It gives total protection to informal settlers against arbitrary and indiscriminate demolition either by private individuals or government entities. In the case of Apas, no less than the Supreme Court has decided in favor of the claimants.

Do we need to disobey that court order? I think honorable Dizon will agree with me that we need to follow the rule of law.

May I suggest to the honorable councilor whose advocacy is the protection of informal settlers to confront the issue head on as far as the issue in Apas is concerned.

We will not give false hope to affected residents because sooner or later, their houses will be demolished once pending legal incidents in court are resolved.

I doubt the newly discovered documents that the lots in question were
friar lands and owned by the Provincial Government can reopen the case. Let’s leave that to lawyers to come up with a last-ditch legal effort to save their clients’ houses from being demolished.

What do I mean by confronting the issue? It is in the law that whenever there are demolitions, the government, in this case the Cebu City Government, should find a relocation site for the displaced residents.

To resolve that conflict, may I suggest to Dizon to sponsor a resolution appropriating some amount for the purchase of a lot or lots for the relocation site of affected residents.

Of course, they have to identify first the area and the value of the properties before sponsoring the resolution.

And to pre-empt the financial capability of the City Government, as the executive department might say the City has no money for that purpose as it was not included in the budget, then we will look for another option. What is this option? What if they (city officials) negotiate with
Aletha Suico Magat, the lot owner, to increase her financial assistance, or disturbance fee, to the affected residents?

I was informed that Suico-Magat is offering P5,000 to owners of houses
made of light materials and P10,000 to owners of decent houses. That is not enough. If Suico-Magat can extend a substantial amount to the occupants, I think many will volunteer to vacate. She even allegedly offered a bribe of P6 million to barangay officials to convince residents
to leave and now she cannot afford to increase her financial assistance? No less than Apas Barangay Captain Ramil Ayuman exposed the bribery attempt.

However, they declined the enticing offer. I can only sympathize with affected residents. It is not easy to lose a house no matter how small it is. But there is already that court order so we have to follow the rule of law. Unless otherwise reversed. It’s also unfair to lot owners if they cannot benefit from properties they inherited from their forefathers. I understand they were also paying taxes for the properties while the case was pending in the court for about 20 years. I hope both parties can come up with a win-win solution.


Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on March 10, 2014.


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