Cebu City Legal: Clearing operations and demolition in Carbon Market valid and legal
CEBU CITY, Philippines — The Cebu City Legal Office (CLO) deemed the clearing operations and demolition of at least 20 stalls at the Carbon Market last September 13, 2021, to be legitimate and valid.
This was their response to the statement of Councilor Jessica Resch, the city’s Sanggunian Federation (SK) President, who delivered a privilege speech condemning the demolitions that displaced over 20 vendors.
In a statement released to the media, City Legal Officer Rey Gealon said that the city government was well within its rights to conduct clearing operations in the area because the stalls and the lot are city government property.
Resch argued that under the Urban Development and Housing Act (UDHA), demolitions cannot be executed without proper relocation and consent from the vendors. She claimed that at least 16 vendors contested the demolition.
However, the CLO maintains the stall clearing cannot be governed by the National Building Code (NBC) and the UDHA since the structures were not dwellings of underprivileged individuals or homeless citizens.
“The structures demolished were either those constructed by the City of Cebu as part of the Carbon Market Complex or structures built by vendors categorized as non-stall holders or ambulant/sidewalk vendors,” said Gealon in his legal recommendation.
Since the city government possesses the rights and powers of ownership and administration over the lands, Cebu City can validly exercise the right to destroy structures subject to limitations imposed by the law such as due process.
Based on the initial investigation, the CLO found that the Market Operations Division (MOD) had informed the affected vendors two months prior to the actual operations and the vendors even volunteered to help clear the area.
All of this happened with the vendors’ knowledge that they will be placed at a temporary relocation and that after fixing the stalls, they would be able to return.
Stall certificates have also been awarded to existing official stallholders at the Carbon Market including a substantial number of vendors classified as non-stall holders as part of the Carbon Modernization program undertaken by the city with Megawide Construction Corp.
“The commercial use of public spaces such as Units 2 and 3 of the Carbon Market is regulated by law and although it has come to pass that vendors overran portions of public spaces in Carbon outside of the stalls that the Carbon Market was designed to accommodate, the City of Cebu is not precluded from asserting public use of these public spaces,” said Gealon.
The MOD urged Resch to give them a chance to explain because they insist that nothing inhumane was done during the clearing operations.
The City Council is set to hold a Citizen’s Hour to probe the issue. /rcg
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