Court to decide on barangay Luz demolition case

Posted on September 23, 2012

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A HEARING will be held tomorrow to decide the fate of the 32 families whose homes are scheduled for demolition in barangay Luz, Cebu City.

The Cebu City government asked Regional Trial Court (RTC) Judge Ramon Daomillas of Branch 11 to grant a one-month extension for them to find a suitable relocation site for the affected families.

Cebu City Legal Officer Leslie Reyes said they are still waiting on the City Council to authorize Mayor Michael Rama to buy the property occupied by the families.

In their pleading, City Hall lawyers said there is no need to compel the settlers to vacate the area.

If settlers are displaced, Reyes said the city government can’t provide a relocation site.

She said a resolution was approved by the Local Housing Board requesting the council to authorize Rama to negotiate with lot owners for the city to buy the property occupied by the families.

Republic Act 7279 or the Urban Development and Housing Act provides that demolition shall not be made unless there is adequate relocation provided by the local government.

The 32 affected families in sitios Nangka, Lubi and Mabuhay in barangay Luz are facing eviction after they lost their civil suit filed against the Capitol, Cebu City Hall and two homeowners associations.

The settlers said they were bona fide occupants of the province-owned lot in barangay Luz, Cebu City.

They said they were placed or relocated to barangay Luz by the government in 1956.

On Dec. 3, 1990, the Provincial Board and then Cebu Gov. Emilio Osmeña approved a resolution authorizing the governor to sell the lots as appraised to the actual occupants on the province-owned lot.

They said unknown to them, the province entered into an agreement with the Cebu City government, which introduced a Community Mortgage Program in the province-owned lots.

The program paved the way for urban poor to acquire their homes through a 25-year amortization plan and allowed the city to organize them into homeowners associations.

Councilor Alvin Dizon, who chairs the council’s housing committee, confirmed this saying the 32 “recalcitrant” families were earlier invited to join the CMP to enable them to own the lots they occupy.

But the families refused and instead filed a complaint against homeowners association who opted to avail of the CMP.

The plaintiffs said they didn’t join because the conditions for membership were “onerous.” The court eventually ruled against their favor.

In 2010, the Supreme Court ruled with finality upholding the demolition order.

“We’re asking the city officials to set aside their political differences and help us find decent homes,” said Generosa Corbeta, president of the barangay Luz Urban Poor Fraternal Organization.

Corbeta said they are holding on to Rama’s promise that the city will buy the property they occupy so they can pay their amortization to the city. /Ador Vincent Mayol and Edison delos Angeles

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