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UP lot survey halted; ‘No one filing lawsuit’

By: Juli Ann M. Sibi, Marc Eric Cosep January 07,2016 - 04:28 AM

A lot survey being made by the University of the Philippines Cebu in a fire-damaged  sitio of barangay Lahug was suddenly stopped yesterday by an office of the Cebu city government.

Robert Barquilla, assistant division chief of  City Hall’s Division for the Welfare of Urban Poor (DWUP) said they stopped the survey after  learning of a report that the school planned  to file charges against the city government.

“Ang amo nahibaw-an nga nagsabot ang city nga mag-facilitate og survey. Didto na ang mga tawo sa site pero later on nakahibaw lang mi mo-file daw og kaso (What we know is that the city had an understanding that it will facilitate the survey. The people were there on the site but we learned later that UP would  file a case) so we decided to put it on hold while the issue is being resolved,” Barquilla said.

He said going to court would be  an act of “bad faith”.

UP Cebu’s lawyer Rene Abcede clarified that the school has not filed any cases.

“What Barquilla is saying is false. Right now, we are not filing any cases since everything is on hold due to the negotiations,” Abcede said.

The incident also suprised Provincial Administrator Mark Tolentino, who is in the middle of negotiations  with Cebu City and UP Cebu for a  relocation site for over 200 affected families as a long-term solution.

“I’ll look into this first,” Tolentino said in a text message.

On Tuesday evening, officials of City Hall, the province and UP Cebu reached an initial agreeement not to evict any fire victim and to let them remain on site in sitio Avocado, while terms are being finalized for the donation of a 2-hectare lot owned by the province in Nivel Hills for use by the informal settlers.

Re-blocking by the city government continues in order to improve the area as a temporary settlement.

As agreed, UP Cebu  will be allowed to develop about 2,000 square meters for a long-planned high school building and three other facilities that couldn’t be done before because of the presence of informal settlers.

UP Cebu architect Dioscoro Alesna, who was to lead the lot survey, said he was unaware of any charges filed by the university but Barquilla insisted on stopping the survey.

“It seems they just wanted to buy more time for the reblocking,” Alesna said.

Some residents of sitio Avocado were angered by the outcome of the dialogue, saying they deserve to stay on the lot.

“We have lived here for 50 years and now after our houses were burned, we will be forced to leave? We are the victims here,” said Virgilio “Tatay Billy” Gabiana.

Gabiana said many of them didn’t want to move to the relocation site in Nivel Hills, barangay Busay.

The deed of donation had yet to be finalized by the province.

“It’s far and it’s not clear. We don’t care how they will develop it, we won’t move out. We will die here, we will stay here,” Gabiana said.

Alesna said the two-hectare relocation site in Nivel Hills could house over 82 single units with 32 square meters for each unit, enough for a single family. The City Council approved a resolution placing the area under calamity status.

But Councilor Mary Ann Delos Santos chided the executive department for failing to coordinate with barangay Lahug and UP Cebu officials in dealing with the settlers.

She said the Rama administration through Acting Mayor Edgardo Labella resorted to staging a “grand production” of reblocking the area and “giving false hope” to settlers that they will be allowed to stay and rebuild their homes in the fire site by UP Cebu.

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