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CEBU, Philippines – Police arrested seven people, including three activists, for resisting the implementation of a demolition order on 39 housing structures in Sitio Casia, Barangay Bankal in Lapu-Lapu City.
According to Ferdinand Ypil, head of the Nagkahiusang Kabus sa Lapu-Lapu (NAKALAP), residents were caught off guard when police and demolition teams arrived to demolish their homes on Tuesday, November 28.
Ypil said members of the Casia Matab-ang Residence Association (CAMARA) formed a human barricade that police attempted to break up, resulting in a commotion that led to the arrest of residents Julito Pedelion and Crisanto Gabutan.
On Wednesday, November 29, a commotion took place as residents and activists tried to halt the demolition.
Based on reports from CAMARA, residents Belt Sasar and Marjhun Amoroto were arrested for alleged obstruction of justice and causing alarms and scandals.
Alyansa sa mga Mamumuo sa Sugbo-Kilusang Mayo Uno (AMA Sugbo KMU) Secretary General Howell Villacrucis, Anakbayan Cebu Chairperson Kei Galon, and Anakbayan Lapu-Lapu Member Deviemar Opo were also arrested.
Howell Villacrucis of AMA Sugbo KMU, Kei Galon and Deviemar Opo of Anakbayan Cebu are seen being apprehended by police carrying heavy firearms.— John Sitchon (@TheJohnSitchon) November 29, 2023
📸: Casia Matab-ang Residence Association@rapplerdotcom pic.twitter.com/WAp01VJTTz
The commotion was more intense on Wednesday because cause-oriented groups were tapped, Major Dexter Basirgo, the station commander of the Barangay Pusok Police Station, told Rappler.
As of posting time, activists and residents are being held at the Barangay Pusok Police Station in Lapu-Lapu City.
Court Sheriff Giovanni Jamon of the Central Visayas Regional Trial Court Branch 27 said the demolition should have begun in 2022 but was postponed as the Lapu-Lapu City government and residents negotiated with the owner of the property for a lease agreement.
“The owner sold the land to the residents last year… but for those who did not pay, we had to proceed with the demolition,” Jamon said.
Based on a court order signed by Judge Genevieve Tabada-Lawas on June 8, Jamon was directed to implement a July 1, 2021 writ of demolition.
The writ referred to two court judgments dating back to November 16, 2006, and February 15, 2007, which ruled in favor of the lot owner, Eulalia Mangura, represented by her daughter Elizabeth Mangura-Frio. She filed a complaint for forcible entry, and sought to be paid for damages and attorney’s fees.
The courts decided that Mangura had enough evidence to prove that she was unlawfully deprived by the residents who built houses and other structures on her lot, covering 21,874 square meters between June and July 2006.
However, residents claimed that a motion to revive the 2006 and 2007 decisions was already dismissed in 2022 due to a lack of merit. Residents also argued that they were not informed ahead of time about the impending demolition in the area.
Rappler found a copy of the Notice to Vacate/Demolish from the Municipal Trial Court in Cities (MTCC) Branch 1 in Lapu-Lapu City dated February 21, 2022.
No home for the holidays
In an interview, Ypil criticized Lapu-Lapu City Mayor Junard “Ahong” Chan for letting them lose their homes weeks before Christmas.
“Ang inyong sayo nga pinaskohan namo…wala na mi kapuy-an (Your early Christmas gift to us… we no longer have homes),” Ypil said with sarcasm.
Ferdinand Ypil, head of the Nagkahiusang Kabus sa Lapu-Lapu (NAKALAP), sarcastically thanks Lapu-Lapu City Mayor Junard “Ahong” Chan for the “early Christmas gift” of losing a home. @rapplerdotcom pic.twitter.com/TwH7pGKGJI— John Sitchon (@TheJohnSitchon) November 29, 2023
Ypil, who said he has been living in the area for more than 20 years, worried about how he can take care of his children without a roof over their heads. He mentioned that he works as a security guard and helps several of his relatives.
“Sa among balay, tulo mi kapamilya nga nagpuyo (In our home, we live with three families),” Ypil said.
Rolin Piañar, a housewife with five kids, also appealed to the mayor who promised to provide them with assistance.
“Asa naman tawn inyong pasalig, mayor, nga inyo man mi tagaan og relocation (Whatever happened to your promise, mayor, that you would give us relocation),” Piañar said.
Residents Rolin Piañar (left) and Roselma Bazar (right) said that they were blindsided as they did not receive any notice of demolition.— John Sitchon (@TheJohnSitchon) November 29, 2023
At least 39 families are affected by the demolition. @rapplerdotcom pic.twitter.com/RPqGgX9L97
Lanie Pacifico, administrative aide of the Lapu-Lapu City Urban Poor Affairs Office, said the city government is preparing to give each of the displaced families P20,000 as financial assistance.
“Aside from the financial assistance, the City Social Welfare and Development Office will give food packs after the demolition,” Pacifico said.
There is no clear plan for the relocation of the families affected by the demolition as of posting time. – Rappler.com