Citi Center squatters seek court aid to stop their eviction

Posted on November 6, 2012

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Some 26 informal settlers in Citi Center in barangay Kamagayan lodged a complaint before the Regional Trial Court to stop the Cebu City Government from demolishing their houses. (FILE PHOTO)

AT least 26 occupants of the Citi Center Commercial Complex in barangay Kamagayan in Cebu City went to court to fight off an eviction.

Assisted by three lawyers, the occupants sought a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) and an injunction to prevent the Cebu city government from ordering them to move out.

Named defendants in the case were Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama and Cebu City Administrator Jose Ma. Poblete.

Regional Trial Court Judge Ma. Lynn Adviento of Branch 58 will hear the case.

The occupants claimed there was no consultation made by City Hall to inform them about the impending demolition or hear them out.

The occupants said city Hall failed to provide them with a relocation site or financial assistance should they get evicted.

These lapses, they said made “the intended eviction procedurally defective.”

Occupants said they have in “actual and peaceful possession” of the land since 2000 when it was still a privately-run wet market.

They said the original landowner allowed them to enter and received monthly rental payments from them.’

For failure to pay taxes, the city government levied the property in 2004 and rental payments were no longer collected from the occupants.

Occupants said their presence was tolerated by the city government.

“Plaintiffs had been in peaceful and undisturbed occupation in their respective niche on the property for about 12 years now until the wave of panic that swept the plaintiffs-residents when they were suddenly served with a notice on Oct 19. 2012,” they said.

The notice of eviction and demolition was issued and signed by Poblete.

They were told to vacate the area within 72 hours or three days from receipt of the notice.

City Hall officials said the place needs to be cleared so it can be used for the city’s government’s night dwellers program and to develop the property as a residential site for Cebu City Hall employees.

But the occupants said the city’s plan won’t be realized soon without the approved funds.

They said Mayor Rama should have delegated Vice Mayor Joy Augustus Young to implement the demolition but that the mayor instead assigned City Administrator Jose Marie Poblete.

“The city administrator has usurped the powers of the city mayor,” said the settlers. /Ador Vincent Mayol, Reporter

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