Acting mayor asks PNP to evaluate documents first before providing aid for any demolition in Cebu City

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CEBU City Acting Mayor Raymond Garcia has asked the Philippine National Police (PNP) to be “very circumspect” and verify legal documents first before providing assistance to demolition or eviction activities in the city.

Garcia sent a letter to Police Regional Office-Central Visayas Director Brig. Gen. Roque Vega on Monday, July 18, 2022, informing the latter that the planned demolition of houses and structures in Barangay Apas is still under litigation.

Garcia further said the City Government would like to become the intervenor in the case to “protect the interest of its constituents which it cannot yet suitably relocate.” The vice mayor is sitting as the acting mayor as Mayor Michael Rama is still on vacation.

The PNP should also verify requests for assistance and make sure that requirements in the Urban Development and Housing Act are being complied with, he added.

Garcia mentioned that he had been made aware of some issues concerning the case, one of which is that the land claimant is already dead and no record has been found to indicate the substitution of the petitioner.

The Office of the Solicitor General has also raised a prejudicial question, whether the parties enumerated in the Notice to Implement are not involved in the actual case, he said.

“Because no ejectment case was filed against them by the lot claimant, Mariano Godinez,” read a portion of the letter.

The proceedings that led to the issuance of the demolition order also deserve a fact-finding inquiry to be conducted by the City Council.

Lastly, Garcia also pointed out that there is an indication of failure to comply with the rules and regulations of the Presidential Commission for the Urban Poor, the Department of the Interior and Local Government, PNP, and the Cebu City Government through the Division for the Welfare of the Urban Poor.

“It is my hope that your office, in carrying out the mandate of serving and protecting our constituents, we could work together in ensuring that development does not come at the price of leaving the families of our soldiers without home,” said Garcia.

The 4.5-hectare Lot 937 is currently occupied by around 200 families of retired soldiers of the Armed Forces of the Philippines who formed an association called Archangels Residents Mergence Inc. (Armi).

In an interview in 2019, Armi president Anne Martel said they had been living there since 1960 after the City Government promised permanent residency to the soldiers’ families.

The problem arose in 2010 after Godinez made a claim on the property and requested the demolition of the structures.

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