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Cebu News

Delos Santos claims: CH execs give fire victims false hopes

The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines – Cebu City Councilor Mary Ann delos Santos has criticized some City Hall officials for messing up in the rehabilitation effort to help over 200 families in Barangay Lahug who were displaced by a huge fire last month.

Delos Santos accused the City Hall officials of mishandling the situation to serve the administration’s political interest.

“Presently, the situation now is a legal mess. And the fire victims are homeless left in limbo. This clearly is a brutal irresponsible act of political abuse of power. As a sensible decent human being, you need to draw the line where your political interest ends when helpless lives are involved,” said Delos Santos during a privilege speech.

According to her, City Hall officials immediately marched into the scene few hours after the fire to re-block the site and distribute the lot to the victims, giving them false hope.

“They thought that was that simple? It is not that simple, it’s more complicated than that… I know the terrains of Lahug, I know its people, I know its calamities, and I know what works during these calamities — it is coordination. I repeat, coordination is the key,” she said, adding that consultation must involve the city government with the fire victims, the barangay officials and most especially, the rightful owner of the lot.

The property is owned by the University of the Philippines-Cebu.

“This leads me to this important point — while we commiserate with the victims and we have to look after them after the fire, we cannot simply ignore the land’s rightful owner… Any proposed solution that shuts off UP-Cebu from the equation is ill-advised, unwise, reckless, half-baked and ineffective,” Delos Santos said.

Delos Santos said that acting mayor Edgardo Labella, City Administrator Lucelle Mercado, lawyer Collin Rosell and other City Hall employees who “came rushing in unannounced with their bulldozers and gathered the families to denounce rightful ownership of UP-Cebu” are actually misleading the fire victims.

But suspended mayor Michael Rama instead commended the City Hall officials involved for being firm.

“I am so proud of acting mayor, Lucelle Mercado, Castillo, Rosell, (Dr. Ester) Concha, and (lawyer Jose Marie) Poblete. They maintained their position that it is not for the city to own the property but to protect the rights of the people that are in misery,” Rama told reporters yesterday.

Labella also denied giving false hope to the fire victims.

“We are not giving false hopes but we are just protecting the rights of the fire victims. Giving false hopes? Never, we should not do that but rather protect the rights of the victims because that is our mandate,” he said.

Labella made clear that the issue is not an ordinary case involving land ownership since it is also anchored on the dimension of calamity and disaster situation. — May B. Miasco/FPL (FREEMAN)

ACIRC BARANGAY LAHUG CEBU CEBU CITY COUNCILOR MARY ANN CITY CITY ADMINISTRATOR LUCELLE MERCADO CITY HALL COLLIN ROSELL DELOS SANTOS FIRE VICTIMS
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