Mahiga residents picket City Hall
Liv G. Campo (The Freeman) - October 12, 2015 - 10:00am

CEBU, Philippines – As the process of choosing new local leaders unfurled in Mandaue City yesterday, residents of Mahiga Creek in Barangay Subangdaku held a picket at the City Hall grounds to ask yet again for a “better” relocation site.

“Unta mangayo mi og on-site relocation or bisa’g asa basta dili lang sa Paknaan,” said Mari Paz Abad, 45, a resident of Mahayag.

Abad’s house was among the 48 structures along the creek which were demolished by the city in June last year. In the neighboring Sitio Mahusay, 44 houses have been cleared by the city government.

Abad, her neighbors and residents of Sitio Mahusay gathered in front of the City Hall since early morning yesterday to call on the city government to face them and hopefully address their concerns.

The picket greeted the first day of the filing of certificates of candidacy for those seeking elective posts in the city next year.

Asked if they attempted to get inside the City Hall building to talk to Mayor Jonas Cortes, Abad said they did not. She said not even a single representative from the city government came to them to hear their grievances.

“Sa sinugdanan, gusto mi makig-dialogue ni mayor, pero wa gyud mi hatagi og higayon,” she alleged.

She said only the affected residents of Mahusay were given a pre-demolition dialogue.

Abad said she and her family have been settling along the creek since 1983, and her parents even way before that.

After demolition, they were moved to a 6.5-hectare relocation site in Paknaan, but they returned to their old place, claiming that the Paknaan site was worse than being in a creek.

“Sobra pa man to’s danger zone. Gipalibutan mi og tubig, mura mi’g naa sa isla,” she said, earning the nod of her fellow rallyists.

She also said that in 2011, Cortes told them there would be houses when they moved to a new relocation, but the site in Paknaan at that time was bare when they got there.

The price, then at P80,000 per 26 square meters, was also high for them. Later, the price skyrocketed to P200,000 to be supposedly amortized for 25 years, she said.

Abad said they returned in Subangdaku with their tents that serve as their temporary houses. She alleged that every now and then, people from the City Hall come to the area and force them to move out and, in the process, remove their tents and other things.

Yesterday’s weather was an uncertainty between fair and cloudy but Abad said they are determined to stay at the grounds, sleep and eat there, until the government gives them a new relocation site.

Cortes’ administration has yet to issue its statement regarding the issue but the city government earlier said the clearing operations at the creek are part of the city’s plans to move residents from places identified as “danger zones.”

Lawyer Giovanni Tianero of the City Legal Office said they will continue the clearing to prevent residents from being victimized by possible flashfloods.

Tianero also earlier said the clearing operations have legal basis and that a pre-demolition conference was held together with the Housing and Urban Development Office.

A City Hall official, who refused to be named, also told The FREEMAN yesterday that the move of these residents is “politically-motivated,” especially now that political tension is brewing in the city, with the Ouanos back to try to reclaim the leadership.

A CITY HALL ABAD ACIRC BARANGAY SUBANGDAKU CITY CITY HALL HOUSING AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT OFFICE LAWYER GIOVANNI TIANERO OF THE CITY LEGAL OFFICE MAHIGA CREEK PAKNAAN SITIO MAHUSAY
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