Cebu News

Facing complaints

Mitchelle L. Palaubsanon - The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines — Eighteen people, together with supporters from cause-oriented group Sanlakas and its affiliates, will be at the Cebu City Hall of Justice today to file several complaints against preventively suspended Mayor Michael Rama, the Cebu City government, and two other government officials and their respective agencies.

The 18 complainants, now residents of Cebu city and Cebu province, are going to the courts over the demolition of their homes sometime in July until November, 2021 in Brgy. Duljo Fatima, Cebu City.

The demolition affected 200 families, including the complainants, who also named as respondents to their complaints Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH)-7 Regional Director Ernesto Gregorio, Jr. and National Housing Authority (NHA)-7 Regional Director Rizalino Cabahug.

The Freeman learned that the complainants would seek for their declaration as urban poor beneficiaries while also praying for the issuance of a writ of mandamus, as well as “specific performance with fixing and collection of just compensation and reasonable financial assistance, with damages, interests and legal fees”.

In documents obtained by The Freeman, the complainants alleged that the City Government and DPWH, through joint venture contractor Rayman Builders Inc./Ice Cube Construction, “prematurely and violently caused the demolition of dwellings and evicted complainants from their residences”.

The demolitions and evictions, the complainants said, were allegedly done without prior expropriation proceedings filed and that there was no court order issued or any ordinance or resolution enacted to authorize such.

The complainants would include the Cebu City Government for its alleged failure to “ensure proper relocation of the plaintiffs and the just, humane and decent implementation of demolitions and evictions” while Rama would be included, too, for his “official and nominal capacity being the chief local executive of the city”.

DPWH and Gregorio, on the other hand, would be included because the agency is the “chief implementor of the flood control project and holder of the funds allocated for the project”, which is the is the reason for the demolition of dwellings and eviction of the complainant.

The NHA-7, meanwhile would also be sued as the “primary government agency in charge of providing housing for the underprivileged and homeless” and Cabahug would likewise be named as respondent as head of the agency.

“This case is significant and instructive considering that the demolition affected about two hundred (200) families. On the other hand, there are reportedly about twelve thousand (12,000) more residents similarly situated in the city who would be affected by the implementation of projects of the city in the future,” read part of the document.

The complainants are Nicolas Abellar Sr., Tita Buico, Veronica Colonares, Novelardo Diacamos Jr., Gina Igot, Jefferson Igot, Emiliano Musolini, Gina Pitogo, Nancy Teves, Joselyn Lopez, Melonie Geraga, Victoria Lim ag, Nestor Calderon, Rowenda Saya-ang, Michelle Saya-ang, Nena Limbaga, Sylvia Segovia and Josephine Enriquez.

According to the document, DPWH opened bids in 2019 for the implementation of a flood-control project in Duljo Fatima worth about almost P600 million and then informed the residents who would be affected.

DPWH-7 personnel reportedly also came and assured the residents just compensation payments.

“Dili mabalaka kay adunay assesment sa ilang mga balay ug bayaran sila kon pila may kantidad sa ilang property" the complainants quoted the DPWH-7 personnel as saying.

Months later, DPWH personnel came back and conducted a survey on affected families and inspected and evaluated the home structures based on floor materials and floor area.

“While the DPWH committed and agreed to pay residents the replacement cost of the dwellings that would be subject of demolition, they did not, however, talk about specific relocation sites, the time and date of demolition, and the time as well as amounts of payment,” read the document that would be filed today.

In early 2021, however, the residents were surprised that personnel from the City Government, specifically from the Division for the Welfare of the Urban Poor (DWUP), told them to voluntarily demolish their homes and vacate the area in five days due to the flood control project.

This, the complainants said, was a surprise considering that it was the DPWH-7 that surveyed them and promised them payments for the value of their dwellings and home improvements

The DWUP personnel reportedly gave them two options—get relocated (with a P12,000 cash aid) or avail of financial assistance instead of relocation (P35,000 cash aid).

“To date, after almost two years since the demolition of the dwellings and eviction from their residences, the relocation sites promised to plaintiffs had not been complied. On the other hand, the flood control project, is incomplete,” read part of the complaint that would be filed today.

The complainants also alleged that a May 26, 2023 letter and a July 25, 2023 letter addressed to Rama asking for additional rental subsidy, since the three-month period promised to them had already elapsed, were sent to the City Government but both went unanswered despite constant follow-ups.

This is the reason why the complainants would be at the courts today to compel the City Government, DPWH-7, NHA-7, and the government officials “to provide adequate relocation and re-settlement site to the Plaintiffs as well as reasonable financial assistance, immediately and without delay, computed at present cost”.(CEBU NEWS)

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