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Cebu News

Ombud now looking into Warwick Barracks issue

Niña S. Abenoja and Mylen P. Manto - The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines - The Office of the Ombudsman-Visayas has started hearing the protagonists in the conflict involving occupants of Warwick Barracks in Barangay Ermita and the Cebu City Government by conducting a case conference yesterday.

A second conference is set Tuesday next week, with the residents, who pleaded for the Ombudsman to be allowed to go back to Warwick Barracks, saying they may seek court intervention if the situation remains unresolved.

Meanwhile, tension flared up in Sitio El Filibusterismo, Ermita yesterday morning after the city's Prevention, Restoration, Order, Enhancement, and Beautification (PROBE) served a clearing notice to vendors who refused to leave the area.

Raquel Arce, PROBE head, said they merely distributed the notice, which gave the vendors three days starting yesterday to vacate.

Arce said she attempted to explain to the vendors that the City Government is closing the area for a road diversion project.

Following the fire that hit the nearby Warwick Barracks last Jan. 21 and left at least 100 families homeless, the city decided to construct new stalls in El Filibusterismo for the affected vendors.

But the area the vendors currently occupied would form part of the diversion road, whose construction Arce said would start soon.

PROBE has also ordered over 180 families temporarily occupying a lot near the South Road Properties viaduct to leave the place by Monday because of safety concerns.

Arce said the fire victims, especially their children, often cross the SRP bridge, posing danger to themselves and to the motorists.

"Unya kung maaksidente, ang gobyerno sad ang pasanginlan, so ato gyud nang gibuhatan og pamaagi (If there is an accident, the government gets blamed; so we looked for a way to prevent any untoward incident)," she said.

On the case conference, resident Perla Eraya told the media that in seeking the Ombudsman's help, they are hoping that the city would consider their appeal that they be allowed to return to Warwick Barracks, as they earn their living selling goods there.

She said that if Tuesday's case conference would yield nothing substantial, they would be constrained to bring the matter to court.

Earlier, some Warwick Barracks occupants who were spared by the fire have lodged a complaint before the Regional Trial Court to stop the city government, represented by Mayor Michael Rama; and PROBE Chief Raquel Bohol Arce, in her capacity as market administrator, from demolishing their houses and stores.

"Petitioners feared that respondents will destroy their properties without due process of law, just like what happened to those fire victims whose makeshift shelters were demolished by respondents without any court order and/or adequate notice to vacate," read the petition.

Such act, the occupants said, violates Section 28 of Republic Act 7279 (Urban Development and Housing Act of 1992).

They further said the city is actually not the registered owner or rightful possessor of Warwick Barracks, which has an area of 5,685 square meters.

Arce, though, said the city has identified Block 27 at the North Reclamation Area (NRA) as temporary relocation of affected vendors and residents.

She would have to forcibly transfer the vendors and residents because they allegedly refuse to be moved far from the Carbon Public Market.

"Ang ilang mentalidad man gud, gusto ra nila og kasayon. Mosakripisyo unta kay naa'y giandam ang gobyerno para nila (They only think of their ease. They should learn to sacrifice because the government is preparing something for them)," said Arce.  — (FREEMAN)

ARCE BARANGAY ERMITA AND THE CEBU CITY GOVERNMENT CARBON PUBLIC MARKET CHIEF RAQUEL BOHOL ARCE CITY CITY GOVERNMENT EL FILIBUSTERISMO MAYOR MICHAEL RAMA NORTH RECLAMATION AREA OFFICE OF THE OMBUDSMAN-VISAYAS WARWICK BARRACKS
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