The Province and Cebu City entered into a deal during the time of then governor, now Vice. Gov. Hilario Davide III, that set aside Lot 1112 in Barangay Lahug as relocation site for the residents.
Garcia said on Nov. 3, when houses were demolished in Sitio San Miguel, that she will honor the agreement. She, however, proposed another survey of the property.
“I’m informing you that the relocation site is now available and we will now start the appraisal process. Pag-Ibig (Home Development Mutual Fund) has the contractors to develop the area,” Garcia said in a mix of Cebuano and English.
Garcia made the announcement in a press conference on Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2022.
In a separate interview on the same day, affected residents of Sitio San Miguel, Barangay Apas described Garcia’s offer as the “light of the end of the tunnel.”
Retired Army Col. Jefferson Omandam, president of the Archangels Residence Mergence Inc., told SunStar Cebu that they welcomed Garcia’s pronouncement, adding that the relocation site that the Province is preparing will benefit more than 100 affected residents.
Garcia said she met on Nov. 8 with officials of Cebu Province, Cebu City, Department of Human Settlements and Development, Pag-Ibig and National Housing Authority (NHA), as well as private lot owners in Lot 937 to resolve the issues surrounding the matter.
Garcia said that the resurvey of the 8,000-square-meter lot located in one of the 16 properties turned over by the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ Visayas Command to the Province of Cebu has already been done.
With this, she said the Province has allocated around 33 square meters for each resident who wish to be relocated.
She also criticized those who continue to rant on social media against the Provincial Government for reportedly not preventing the demolition of houses in Lot 937.
“I just hope that this would finally settle the issue because first of all, let me make it very clear, there’s already a Supreme Court decision. There is even a demolition order. I cannot understand some who resort to social media posting, claiming that it’s illegal. I mean, is the Supreme Court illegal? If you continue to pretend to be lawyers on social media, are you telling me that you are better than the Supreme Court?” Garcia added.
She added that while she wants all those affected by the demolition to have a place for their families, she will no longer prevent them if they do not want the relocation site offered by the Province.
For Omandam, he and his fellow affected residents welcomed Garcia’s announcement since they will be able to avail themselves of socialized housing.
“Kung kinahanglan bayran, maningkamot gyud ang mga tao. Kanang socialized housing dili man pud kaayo na ingon [mahal] kay socialized gyud so para gyud ni primarily sa mga na biktima sa demolisyon,” said Omandam.
(If we need to pay for it, then we will work hard to do so. Also, socialized housing isn’t that expensive and it benefits those who are victims of demolition.)
He added that having the relocation site overseen by Pag-Ibig is better since standard zoning processes will be followed and proper facilities ideal for a community will be established.
With the size of the relocation area, some residents with big families may opt to build houses with more floor levels to accommodate the number of people that can fit inside the structure, Omandam added.
Since most of the affected residents are families of retired and active military and police personnel, Omandam said that they are grateful that the government is still fighting for their ownership of the property by representing them in court.
Legal fight not over
Despite the availability of the relocation site, he said that they are still hoping that the country’s justice system will truly reveal the true owner of the 4.6-hectare property, which they believe is the National Government.
But Omandam added that since the relocation is now ongoing, the affected residents will leave their houses and will avail themselves of the relocation site offered by the provincial government. (ANV, IRT / LMY)