Mandaue City

2019 fire victims staying at Mandaue convention center face eviction

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2019 fire victims staying at Mandaue convention center face eviction 

PICKET. 2019 fire victims staying at the Cebu International Convention Center in Mandaue City hold a picket after they received a 15-day demolition notice, on June 14., 2024.

Ian Peter Guanzon/Rappler

The affected families are victims of a fire in the village of Tipolo who evacuated at the Cebu International Convention Center five years ago

CEBU, Philippines – Hundreds of families left homeless by a 2019 fire have been given until this month to move out from the premises of the local government-owned Cebu International Convention Center (CICC) in Mandaue City as authorities warned they would demolish the temporary homes they built in the area.

The Mandaue City government’s Housing and Urban Development Office (HUDO) issued a June 6 notice of demolition, informing the informal settlers they had 15 days to demolish their structures and leave the CICC.

The move prompted a picket by anxious residents in front of HUDO on Friday, June 14, during a dialogue about the demolition notice among representatives of the Tipolo Residents Association (TRA), Commission on Human Rights (CHR), and HUDO.

The families, who built shelters at the CICC, were displaced by a fire that destroyed communities in sitios Basubas, Maharlika, and Espina in Barangay Tipolo in 2019. They evacuated to the CICC and have stayed there for five years.

Initially, HUDO warned that the city government would demolish their shelters unless they did it themselves.

CICC occupants were angered by the demolition notice, saying the decision was made without a public consultation.


Ursina Torregosa, TRA chairperson, said HUDO apologized for the 15-day demolition notice during the June 14 dialogue when they sought clarification about a promised housing initiative.

Torregosa said only those who built structures would benefit from city hall’s promised housing program, and individuals and families who were merely renting or sharing spaces would be excluded.

She asserted that the Urban Development and Housing Act of 1992 does not discriminate against the status of beneficiaries for housing and relocation, regardless of whether they are owners, renters, or sharers.

Torregosa also said authorities cannot demolish the structures unless there is a proper relocation program, and those affected have to be notified at least 30 days prior to the date of demolition.

She said HUDO assured during the dialogue that the 15-day notice of demolition would be set aside, but the TRA was skeptical because the assurance was only made verbally.

Rappler reached out to HUDO for a comment on the issue, but the office declined to give statements.

Worried occupants

Esterlita Dayagdan, a 40-year-old vendor who has made the CICC her home since 2019, said she joined the picket lines because she was worried that she and her family would be displaced again and because the government has not offered them a place for relocation.

Dayagdan said she signed papers in May to enlist in HUDO’s housing project, and her hopes were dashed when she learned this month that they were up for demolition. She said the 2019 fire victims have nowhere to go if the local government carries out the demolition.

“Di ba naa mi right, dapat di jud mi manghawa sa among gipuy-an kay amo mana gi puy-an, kay wa mi kapa-ingnan?” Dayagdan told Rappler.

(Don’t we have the right to stay, and not leave our homes because we have nowhere else to go?)

According to Dayagdan, it was not the first time they faced a demolition threat since 2020.

“Ang uban nanghadlok, nanghawa sila. Kami ni barog jud mi sa among baroganan di mi manghawa kay asa mi paingon?” Dayagdan said.

(Others were scared and left. We stood by our rights and did not leave because we had nowhere else to go.)

Another resident who joined the picket was 23-year-old Jobert Arnejo, who supports his family working as an aide of tennis players.

Arnejo said he has been struggling to make ends meet given that he has six family members to feed, and the last thing he needed was to be driven out of the CICC.

Arnejo appealed to the local government to provide them a place for relocation before the impending demolition.

“Okay ra if pabalhinon mi og naay ihatag nga relocation. Wa may ihatag asa man mi’g kwarta iabang?” Arnejo told Rappler.

(It’s okay if they evict us as long as they provide relocation. If they don’t provide anything, where will we get the money to rent a place?) – Ian Peter Guanzon/

Ian Peter Guanzon is a Rappler intern from the University of the Philippines in Cebu.

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