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Groups lobby for demolition moratorium

May B. Miasco/JMO (The Freeman) - January 13, 2016 - 9:00am

CEBU, Philippines - Saying that the Cebu City government is “ill-prepared” as far as providing relocation sites for the urban poor is concerned, a group has asked the City Council to pass the proposed ordinance that aims to put a moratorium on demolitions.

The group appeared at the council yesterday during the hearing of the public proposed ordinance.

“My coming here is to encourage the city officials to do more, we want action. The city government should stand together in helping our unfortunate brothers and sisters. You have the power and will,” said Reverend Father Martin Okafor-Ilozue, a Nigerian Catholic priest who is supporting the moratorium.

Residing in the city for eight years, Ilozue is currently based at a slum area in Barangay T. Padilla as a missionary.

He described the area as a “dangerous place” where abusive vices are present such as illegal drugs, prostitution, and crime and where major concerns like unemployment and overpopulation are persistent.

“The issue of slum and squatters and those living in public places is an urgent need (to be addressed), not positioning or politicizing. For me, I believe that no one should live on the slum because it is not habitable and that owner of the land should get their land back. Also the squatters should be ready to allow the city government to relocate them,” Ilozue said.

“(But) for the city government to do that effectively, the one-year moratorium is needed to work out the modalities and to get the relocation [site] ready… The government should help the poor provide decent houses which they can’t afford,” he said further.

Another supporter of the ordinance, Bro. Paulino Bongcaras, SVD of the Society of the Divine Word, agreed that the proposed ordinance should be enacted to protect the informal settlers from being displaced due to evictions or demolitions, stressing this year’s observance of the year of mercy and compassion.

Bongcaras condemned the “inhumane approaches” by government.

Teody Navea, Secretary General of Sanlakas-Cebu, expressed gratitude to the current move of the proponent, Councilor Alvin Dizon, in refiling the ordinance that would provide “relief” to the marginalized sector.

“We wanted this moratorium for we were witnesses to the grim reality that the city is ill-prepared and need more time to fulfill such arduous task and as such would result violating the spirit of UDHA (Urban Development and Housing Act) law where it lays down the need to provide relocations and related programs for the urban poor constituents of the city,” he said.

“We are appealing to the City Council to heed on our appeal to have this ordinance be passed. This is the right time for you to act and once again profess your undying commitment to serve the marginalized sector of the city,” Navea added.

Auxilium “Inday” Olayer, for her part, stressed that the main objective of the proposed measure is “reasonable” and a “practical solution” to the problems created out of the unprepared moves by the city government in undertaking demolitions.

She is the vice president of Freedom from Debt Coalition-Cebu Chapter, whose group members are Sanlakas, Kilusan and Kongreso ng Pagkakaisa ng Maralitang Lungsod.

“These problems had been nagging us since last year and in fact this was elevated to the level of our national organization to bring the issue as a national campaign,” Olayer said.

“As members of the coalition, we vowed to support the plight of the urban communities who had been victims of suppression… With that, we strongly support the whole content of the [ordinance] because we believe that that is for the good of all the marginalized sector of our city and province,” she added. — (FREEMAN)

ACIRC BARANGAY T CEBU CITY CITY CITY COUNCIL COUNCILOR ALVIN DIZON DEBT COALITION-CEBU CHAPTER GOVERNMENT ILOZUE KILUSAN AND KONGRESO MARALITANG LUNGSOD
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