Cebu News

Council urged: Refile moratorium ordinance

May B. Miasco/FPL - The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines - The Akbayan Partylist has urged the Cebu City Council to repass the proposed ordinance seeking for a one-year moratorium on city-initiated demolitions.

The partylist expressed its “unwavering support” to the measure which had been vetoed twice already.

Akbayan Partylist Representative Ibarra Gutierrez III wrote a letter to the council to express his support and to ask the body as well to pass the measure for the third time.

“We express our unwavering support for the said ordinance and hope that the City Council would reconsider filing and approving the same at the soonest possible time,” reads Gutierrez’ letter addressed to the City Council.

Gutierrez was referring to the proposed City Ordinance 2448, or “An Ordinance Imposing a Moratorium on Evictions or Demolitions of Dwelling in Public Lands to be undertaken by the Cebu City Government for a Period of One Year from Effectivity of this Ordinance within the City of Cebu.”

“The urban poor sector of Cebu City has long waited for its enactment, let us not have them wait any longer in ensuring that their right against unjust evictions and right to access adequate housing are promoted and protected by their very own local government,” Gutierrez said.

The proposed ordinance authored by Councilor Alvin Dizon was vetoed twice already. It was first vetoed by Mayor Michael Rama and then Vice Mayor Edgardo Labella during his stint as acting mayor.

“It is very unfortunate that for a second time, the proposed ordinance which sought a one-year moratorium on evictions or demolitions undertaken by the Cebu City Government was again vetoed by the sitting City Mayor,” said Gutierrez, who pointed out that the ordinance was supposed to give the city more time to identify and provide adequate relocation sites.

Rama rejected the proposal when it was first introduced last year claiming that it contravenes to the existing national laws and policies, specifically the Urban Development and Housing Act of 1992.

When re-introduced this year, Labella also vetoed the measure citing the same ground earlier cited by Rama.

“Their interpretations of the provisions of the said act run amiss as our very own 1987 Philippine Constitution, under Section 10, Article XIII, provides that urban poor dwellers shall not be evicted nor their dwellings demolished, expect in accordance with law and in a just and humane manner,” said Gutierrez.

The same section, he continued, provides that resettlement cannot be pursued unless there is adequate consultation with the affected parties and the communities where they are to be relocated.

“It is mandatory for the local government unit to provide relocation or resettlement sites with basic services and facilities and access to employment and livelihood opportunities sufficient to meet the basic needs of affected families… LGUs cannot execute evictions or demolitions even if such act partakes of an abatement of a public nuisance without first complying with the conditions set in the provisions of UDHA,” said Gutierrez.

He added there is no provision in UDHA prohibiting any LGU to impose moratorium on demolitions or evictions.

Under the transitory provision stated on Section 44 of UDHA, moratorium on demolitions or evictions shall not apply to those persons who have constructed their structures after the effectivity of UDHA and for cases enumerated under Section 28 (structures built in danger area, public places and on properties where government-funded projects are about to be implemented.)

“The above-mentioned provision merely refers to the moratorium imposed under said law, during a three-year transitory period, in order to give the LGU ample time to prepare for suitable relocation and resettlement sites,” Gutierrez said.

Dizon said he is open to refiling the measure but said he is still needs to consult his urban poor allies.

“I’m open to the refiling of the measure especially if there is a renewed call from our urban poor movement and civil society groups… mokonsulta una ko. I will not take any action without consulting our urban poor allies,” said Dizon, who is also a member of Akbayan Partylist.

“We will hold consultations in the coming days with various sectors to map out our ways forward. We also plan to talk to Archbishop (Jose) Palma and other church leaders to ask for their support for the one-year moratorium on demolition,” he added.  (FREEMAN)



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