Gwen assures 93-1 land swap dispute will be resolved soon
CEBU CITY, Philippines — Despite a standing renegotiation on the 93-1 land swap deal, the Cebu Provincial Capitol assured the nearly 5,000 families living in the 32-hectare lots that the nearly three-decade dispute will be resolved soon.
Governor Gwendolyn Garcia said the province and the city government have agreed to confine the discussion on the land swap deal to the original lots covered by the land swap ordinance that has been pending since 1993.
The land swap will transfer the ownership of the 32 hectares of province-owned lots that are occupied by urban poor settlements in 11 barangays in Cebu City.
In August 2018, former governor Hilario Davide III and former Cebu City mayor Tomas Osmeña inked the memorandum of agreement for the land swap.
Under the MOA, the province will give transfer to the city government the ownership of the disputed residential lots along with a 1.5-hectare lot within the Department of Agriculture (DA) compound in Barangay Guadalupe, a 2,358-square-meter property along Gorordo Ave. in Barangay Lahug and a portion of a property in Barangay Capitol Site.
In exchange, the city will give at least 2.5 hectares in the South Road Properties (SRP), the abattoir and the city’s septage treatment plant at the North Reclamation Area, a portion of Block 27 and the city-owned property in Barangay Pulpogan in Consolacion town.
But when Garcia and Cebu City Mayor Edgardo Labella took over in July this year, the city and the province agreed to renegotiate the deal as they called the process taken by their predecessors as erroneous.
“I think we are moving at a very positive pace. We understand that the city is interested in helping the residents of 93-1. The province agrees that the issue be confined to 93-1,” Garcia said.
But the other properties, Garcia said will have to be reverted to the original owners.
Capitol legal consultant Rory Jon Sepulveda said renegotiating the deal with only the original 93-1 lots in focus would be easier than “curing the errors previously committed.”
“Mahago lang ta og doctor sa sayop nila nga gibuhat. Maayo pa mobalik sinugdanan, 93-1 lang gyud. Kung imo pang i-cure, hago lang,” Sepulveda said.
(It will be exhausting to cure the faulty processes that they committed. It would be better if we start again and focus on 93-1 alone. It would be tiresome if we rather cure it.)
Garcia said the province’s negotiation with the city continues particularly on how the city would compensate the province for the properties that will be given out.
Garcia said a reappraisal of the involved lots will be conducted soon in order to determine the present value of the lots that will be swapped.
Lawyer Marino Martinquilla, also a legal consultant in the Capitol, said the reappraisal is needed to ensure a fair swap for both local government units.
“Kana gung appraisal, element of fair play man na. Kung magbaylo man gani, hibaw-an kung pila diri para dili takilid nga pabor ang usa alkansi ang usa. Duna gyuy appraisal dili kay mata-mata lang,” Martinquilla said.
(Appraisal is an element of fair play. If there will be a swap, it is proper that we know the actual value so nobody would be at loss. We need to have the actual appraisal and not just play it with estimates.)
Garcia said the city and the province will simultaneously revoke the 2018 MOA once they already come up with new terms of the agreement.
Sepulveda said they would rather revoke it only if there is already a new agreement so that the residents of the 93-1 lots will not be in fear of having to lose their homes again.
“This is a sensitive issue. If we revoke it now, this may be misconstrued and the residents may live in fear again,” Sepulveda said. /bmjo
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