Lot 937 residents to continue legal battle vs. demolition

RESIDENTS of the controversial Lot 937 in Sitio San Miguel, Barangay Apas in Cebu City have no plans to give up their legal battle for the ownership of the property.

This is what Anne Martel, who represents the Archangels Residence Mergence Inc. (Armi), said during a news forum on Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2022.

But a representative of the land claimant said they have no plans to back down on their claim especially that developers have hinted that the area will be used to develop it into a billion peso venture, particularly an extension of Cebu IT Park.

Martel, who is vice president of Armi, said that since the start of the demolition last Nov. 3, around 60 houses have already been destroyed by the clearing team.

The City Government has no definite plan for the relocation site, and it has not given other assistance to the affected residents.

“This is already an immediate concern, especially that the demolition has been implemented. What we are after is that the City would be serious on its promise to provide a suitable relocation site for the affected residents of Lot 937,” Martel said in a mix of English and Cebuano.

As to the residents’ plan to further seek legal remedies, Martel said they still have a pending petition before the Supreme Court.

Martel said they will not give up their claim to the property since they are holding legal documents that prove that the property is owned by the government and not by the group claiming the property.

Martel presented a disbursement voucher of a payment made by the government in 1939 to a certain Felisa Sy Cip for the expansion of the military camp.

With this, Martel argued that the property is no longer owned by a private individual but is currently owned by the Republic of the Philippines.

An appeal for issuance of a status quo ante-order is also pending in the Supreme Court, Martel added.

Delaying tactics

Edgar “Egay” Erice, a former politician turned representative of the lot claimant Macy’s Capital Inc., said that nothing can stop the demolition, especially that the residents’ requests for a temporary restraining order (TRO) had already been denied several times.

Erice added that they will meet with Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia to finalize the proposed 8,000-square-meter property that will be used as a relocation site for the affected families.

During the time of then governor Hilario Davide III, the provincial and city governments entered into a deal that set aside Lot 1112 in Barangay Lahug as a relocation site for the residents.

Garcia made a pronouncement last Nov. 3, that she will honor the agreement entered into by the previous administration, but she proposed another survey of the property.

According to Martel, their organization asked Erice to suspend the Nov. 3 demolition until the lot claimant can meet with the governor to finalize the terms for the relocation site but eventually the request was not granted.

Erice explained that they could no longer wait and he presumed that even though the relocation site will be finalized, the residents will still not leave the property.

“To be honest, what I’m seeing is that they are still hoping against hope that they can secure a TRO. They still continue to file these petitions just to delay [the demolition]. What I’m seeing is that they are not after relocation but to delay the process,” Erice said in a mix of English and Tagalog.

According to Erice, they are still finalizing the development plan for the 4.6-hectare property but 6,000 square meters will be allocated for the construction of a hotel.

Necifora Pao, a fellow Armi officer, said that the City Government should be leading the efforts in providing relocation sites for the families but it made no efforts.

Pao added that some of the affected families are currently staying on the basketball court since they do not have the money to pay for housing rent.

Compensation

According to Erice, around 40 families were already given P100,000 each as compensation for voluntarily leaving their houses.

Martel said they have removed those who received the money from their list of members since their action is against the principle of their organization which is to fight for the ownership of the lots.