Land swap deal

By: Editorial December 22,2016 - 08:50 PM

FINAL Cartoon for_23DEC2016_THURSDAY_renelevera_TURN-OVER

When the Team Rama bloc in the Cebu City Council decided to review the proposed land swap deal between the city and province for settlers occupying province-owned lots under Provincial Ordinance 93-1, a lot of people thought they were merely trying to rain on and spoil Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña’s parade by delaying its approval.

Well, the ad hoc committee composed mostly of Team Rama–bloc councilors finished their week-long review of the land swap deal, and while they are mostly supportive of the deal, they did make some significant proposals which would ensure that the lots to be swapped in favor of the settlers would be for their use alone.

By lobbying for the settlers’ retention of the lots they occupied, this would mean that they cannot be driven out if they failed to pay under a payment program to be set up by the city government once they assume control of the lots from the province.

To recall, the provincial government previously donated the lots under Provincial Ordinance 93-1 to the settlers in order to allow them to stay in their homes, provided they pay the province under reasonable rates.

The problem was, a lot of settlers either failed to pay because they couldn’t afford it or they simply ignored the requirement in the belief that the lands were donated to them free of charge.

A previous land swap deal between former Cebu governor Gwendolyn Garcia and Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña fell through, and when then former mayor Michael Rama tried to negotiate with Cebu Gov. Hilario Davide III, his proposal for a cash payment and some lots were found unacceptable by the province based on their commercial valuation of the lots occupied by the settlers which were higher than what Rama proposed.

In the event that the current land swap deal is approved, the lots will fall under the city government’s jurisdiction, which doesn’t mean that the settlers will be cleared of their responsibility to pay for the lands they occupy.

That said, there will be a new payment scheme that would be set by City Hall, while those who have fully paid their obligations are considered homeowners.

There were unconfirmed speculations that the city government may plan to sell the lots to commercial developers interested in developing the formerly province-owned lots once the land swap deal pushes through.

While it has yet to be verified if the land swap agreement would allow the city government to do just that, the Team Rama–bloc’s proposal to ensure that the settlers will stay on their lots means that they cannot just be driven out without being informed or negotiated with by City Hall and any other interested developer.

While the land swap deal should benefit the settlers, it should also remind them to settle their obligations to the city government which would now assume responsibility over them.

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TAGS: 93-1, benefit, Cebu, deal, Hilario Davide III, land property, land swap, property, Tomas Osmeña, urban poor

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