- Residents solicit support of city government to back fight vs land claims
BARANGAY 76-A residents sought assistance from the 20th city council and city mayor Sebastian Duterte to back them in their fight against a private land developer.
Ecoland Properties and Development Corporation (EPDC), according to the residents, claims the area where they currently reside.
Marietta R. Tabaranza, 62, Times Beach Labor Association secretary since 2018 said the developer filed a case for recovery of possession. Tabaranza is among one of the residents in the barangay who received an individual demand letter to vacate in 2018.
“ Pati akong permit na jeopardize, kay ila man giinform ang business bureau nga I am occupying without the consent of the owner. Paano maging owner [mo] nga kami naa mi foreshore lease?,” Tabaranza said.
A Foreshore lease is an agreement executed between the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and the applicant to occupy, develop, and manage a foreshore land.
Tabaranza recalled they were only given 15 days to vacate the area that they are currently occupying and to restore the possession to the owner.
Dylinda Ravanes, representative of Liza’s Restaurant, recalled that the forefathers of her husband were the first to set foot on the contested area. They developed the land knowing that nobody owned it.
Ravanes stands firm that she will not sign the agreement proposed to them as this was not enough to compensate for moving to another location where they can start all over again.
Residents who had no financial capability to counter the case filed against them decided to surrender and entered a settlement agreement with EPDC. Ravanes said they will not be among them.
The settlement agreement with waiver states that the defendant agrees to vacate the portion of land and turn over the same to EPDC, and he/she will be given a 60 square meters relocation lot at Barangay Manuel Guianga, Tugbok District.
It further states that he/she will vacate said portion within 30 days from the turnover date of the relocation lot to him/her. He/she will also be given P20,000 cash assistance and transportation during the transfer.
Refusal of the resident to vacate even after the turnover and financial aid grant, shall allow the EPDC to remove and demolish the structure without any court order.
Out of 3,000 residents, some 906 already signed the agreement and 50% were duly notarized by the court.
Harassed to sign
Barangay Captain Robert Olanolan, said that the residents are forced by harassment to sign the agreement but are not willing to relocate.
“ Daghan kaayong mga nag-attempt nga i-demolish by way of harassment sa mga tao. Ila pa gyung gina select nag mga tao kadtong mga walay alam sa pamalaod, walay mga kwarta to fight the case. Napildi ang mga tao because of technicality,” he said.
Olanolan said these residents have resided in the area for more than 30 years and are supposed to be qualified to apply for a land title.
He reported more than 10,000 households will be affected in the land contested by the EPDC from Kabacan to Times Beach.
The barangay chief said that the source of income of most of the residents is fishing which will be affected if relocated in the mountains.
Brgy. Councilor Randy Ponteras said the residents who signed were threatened that if they did not sign the agreement they would be charged criminally.
“ Ang mga katawhan ingnan nga file-an mog kaso, na ma priso pa mo ani, hurawon ba,” he added.
At present, the barangay has provided legal counsel to assist the residents in pushing their rights as actual occupants.
During the first regular session of the city council on Jan. 9, a resolution was endorsed by Committee on Housing, Rural and Urban Development chair, councilor Javi Campos, to enact an ordinance to grant the request of EPDC Counsel Susan Cariaga to re-classify their 20-hectare property in Manuel Guianga, Tugbok District from agricultural to socialized housing.
The property will serve as the relocation site for the residents who signed the settlement agreement.
Cariaga said the area is not far from basic services needed by the settlers and that it was already endorsed to the Local Zoning Review Committee.
Third district councilor Alberto Ungab contested why the property applied for re-classification which will be used for relocation are all located in the creek and ridge areas.
“Why are we converting an agricultural area into a residential area in the middle of nowhere?,” Ungab stressed.
“No roads are there? Who is going to develop the roads? It is too far away from the main road and these two areas are in the middle of an agricultural zone? Are you going to convert to make some residential area in the middle of an agricultural zone?” he added.
The areas, said Ungab, have no road networks, no public transport, and no accessibility to amenities for residents.
In response, Cariaga disproved that the area is not in the middle of nowhere as there is access to roads, is complete with an electric connection, and is within the vicinity of a school, a health center, a church, and a barangay hall.
“The area is located beside a road and the road network within the property will be taken up during the application for a development permit,” Cariaga added.
Cariaga assured that no residents will be placed in the ridge area and that the area is meant for greening and drainage. She added the establishment of road networks will be the responsibility of the developer and not the city.
Cariaga added they will provide basic needs such as water for the residents before they allow entry in the relocation.
Councilors Joseph Zozobrado and Alberto Ungab abstained from voting on the approval of the reclassification as long as there is an assurance from the developer to secure the needs of to-be-relocated residents such as water and road access.
Councilor Javi Campos said to reflect the amendments for the application, the item was deferred to the next regular session.
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