Cebu News

Acting mayor ignores plea, vetoes Dizon’s ordinance

May B. Miasco/RHM - The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines - Cebu City acting mayor Edgardo Labella opted to ignore City Councilor Alvin Dizon’s appeal for a one-year moratorium on city-ordered demolitions because it is “against” a national law, which was one of the reasons why Mayor Michael Rama vetoed Dizon’s ordinance.

“Unfortunately, such moratorium is in direct contravention with Republic Act 7279, or the Urban Development and Housing Act of 1992….  To approve the subject ordinance would be to violate the very provisions of R.A. 7279 and make the head of this city liable to administrative sanctions under existing laws and to penal sanctions of RA 7279,” wrote Labella in his veto message dated February 4, 2016.

He said that the proposed ordinance, which the City Council approved, would “make a perfect sense” if only it is not subject to RA 7279.

“In fact, it appears ideal and desirable because it gives flesh to the social justice provision of the constitution as well as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,” he said.

“However, even as we vigorously and relentlessly pursue our obligation to assure shelter for our people and promote their dignity, we should not also lose sight of our primordial responsibility to promote the general welfare and safety,” he added.

Labella reiterated that as public officials, all of them were duty-bound to uphold the laws of the land.

“Any legislative measure passed that runs contrary to the laws of our republic is null and void,” he said in his three-page veto message.

 “With a heavy heart, because Ordinance 2448 unnecessarily and mercilessly raised the expectations of the affected informal settlers, that I am constrained to veto (this ordinance),” said the acting mayor.

He said Section 28 of RA 7279 provides that summary evictions or demolitions in danger areas, public places, and areas where government-funded infrastructure projects are about to be implemented are “expressly allowed” by the UDHA law.

“Let us not forget that the subject ordinance proposing a moratorium on evictions and demolitions of dwellings seek to cover danger areas and public places. These areas are called danger areas and public places for good reason,” he said.

“There are ways to serve the less fortunate members of our city without compromising their safety and the general welfare. With all due respect, the subject ordinance is not one of them,” he said further.

Labella said imposing a moratorium on demolitions in danger areas will “unreasonably deprive the city government of its inherent power and responsibility to protect the interest of the greater majority of its inhabitants.”

“Allowing any structure, including dwellings, in these dangers zones, amount to criminal negligence on the part of the city government,” he said.

In a press statement yesterday, Dizon expressed his disappointment over Labella’s action, calling him the acting mayor who “callously vetoed any moratorium” while posturing as being pro-poor.

“We are sad. We crossed partisan lines to heed the appeal of the urban poor for a moratorium on demolitions. One year should give us time to prepare relocations sites,” said Dizon, who heads City Hall’s Committee on Housing.

Labella, however, said he consulted urban poor organizations while he was scrutinizing Dizon’s proposed ordinance and weighing his options.

Dizon vowed to continue the “fight” by hoping for co-legislators to override Labella’s veto.

“We will try to persuade our colleagues to join us in overriding this anti-poor move. Our urban poor and NGO allies will hold a press conference next week… As we prepare for an override, we call on the city’s poor to help us maintain our non-partisan strength,” Dizon said.  (FREEMAN)


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