Gwen seeks to remove roosters, cockpit from Cebu City lot owned by Province

CEBU Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia wants to get rid of the fighting cocks and a cockpit on a Capitol-owned lot in Barangay Luz, Cebu City.

The lot was the subject of a compromise agreement between the Provincial Government and retired police colonel Rico Palcuto.

Before reaching a court-sanctioned compromise, Palcuto had been occupying a lot in Barangay Banilad, Cebu City owned by the Province. He put up his residence and main office for his lechon business on the lot.

The lot was the site for the proposed Ciudad project of the Province of Cebu in partnership with Fifth Avenue Property Development Corp. that did not push through.

In 2006, the Province demanded that informal settlers, including Palcuto, vacate the lot. In August 2011, another demand letter was addressed to Palcuto. However, the retired police official did not leave his place.

In 2017, the Province offered for Palcuto to transfer to another parcel of land located in Barangay Luz, with an area of 1,949 square meters, by way of lease as a compromise.

The offer came after Palcuto filed a civil case against the Province of Cebu, Fifth Avenue and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, asking the court to declare the title of a Capitol-owned property in Barangay Banilad, Cebu City “null and void.”

Lease agreement

Garcia said the Province already signed a lease agreement with Palcuto, but the retired police official refused to start paying the lease because of the presence of the fighting cocks and cockpit.

“If I do not insist on our rights, the Provincial Government will be at a disadvantage. Palcuto won’t start paying the lease if the area is not cleared,” Garcia said in a mix of Cebuano and English on Monday, March 2, 2020.

The fighting cocks and cockpit were reportedly owned by Luz’s chief tanod (watchman) and a village councilman.

The Capitol has been clamoring for the removal of the structures and roosters since July 2019, right after Garcia assumed the governorship.

About three-fourths of the land, or around 1,461 square meters, were occupied by fighting cocks, according to Provincial Attorney Donito Villa.

The barangay councilor and his associate allegedly refused to heed the Province’s request.

“What they want to establish is that the area is being used as an evacuation center for fire survivors. But the truth is it has become a permanent domicile for their fighting cocks and cockpit,” Garcia said in a mix of Cebuano and English.

The governor met with City officials led by Councilor Raymond Alvin Garcia on Monday morning to discuss the matter.

Apparently, the City Hall was under the assumption that the lot was being used as an evacuation area for families displaced by the blaze that hit the barangay last January.

However, the Provincial Legal Office found during its recent visit a “fighting cock plantation.”

“There are so many other areas that we can work in beneficial cooperation. We don’t need this irritant... We have this contractual obligation to see to it that Palcuto can relocate and lease. These people have their personal interests and are just using the fire survivors,” Garcia said.

She further said: “As far as I know, the mayor (Edgardo Labella) and I had talked about this, that the lot has to be cleared because there is a court agreement already.”

During the meeting, City Administrator Floro Casas Jr. told the governor that they will inform Labella about the “real score” in the area so the mayor can make his move. (RTF)