Urban poor groups nix demolition without pay

Published in Cebu Daily News, February 13, 2011
By: Jemarie Jane P. Augusto

FOUR urban poor groups in Cebu City and Mandaue are opposing the demolition of houses within danger zones since displaced families are not being compensated or offered relocation site.

The four groups include the Fellowship for Organizing Endeavors (FORGE) Inc. in Cebu City; Sulong Mandauehanong Kabus (SUMAKA) Inc., a federation of 27 multisectoral organizations in Mandaue City; Alaska Federation, a Cebu City federation of SIR beneficiaries from 14 sitios in Alaska, Mambaling; and Lareha Homeowners’ Association Inc. (LAREHAI), composed of 210 households occupying 11 blocks along the riverbanks of Kalunasan River.

In a press statement, the federations, led by FORGE, said they appreciate the initiatives of Mandaue and Cebu Cities to clear any obstruction along riverbanks that may result in flooding or landslides in Metro Cebu.

But the federations were alarmed by the demolitions since there were no consultations held nor compensation or relocation site given as mandated by the Urban Development and Housing Act (UDHA) of 1992.

They also lamented the LGUs branding of the urban poor residing along riverbanks as the main reason flooding in the cities of Cebu and Mandaue.

They said this was baseless and a product of reactive decision-making without comprehensive planning on mitigating floods. They said that big establishments in the cities of Cebu and Mandaue were responsible for the flooding, but LGUs did not call their attention.

They cited the flooding in barangay Mantuyong, Mandaue City, which became flooded for the first time after the Cebu International Convention Center and Parkmall were built in the area.

The flooding in barangay Mabolo was also not that alarming before until SM Cebu and Radisson Blu were built.

Waterflow of the Kalunasan river also doubled its intensity compared to the current flow after the Cebu provincial jail and Cebu city jail were built on top of the mountain of Kalunasan.

Flooding in Mambaling was also not that significant until South Road Properties (SRP) was developed.

FORGE is now doing an inventory on how many families will be affected by the demolition of houses along Kalunasan river.

The federations said the LGUs should conduct a comprehensive planning on how to effectively mitigate flooding in the city in consultation with various sectors such as the urban poor, the private sector and other business groups.

Also, they should provide relocation sites complete with basic social services to those who will be displaced and extend financial assistance to those who will opt to avail of the Balik Probinsya program.

They also said the LGUs should provide a temporary evacuation center to families whose houses are constructed on waterways, which are now subject to immediate demolition, and give them priority in the relocation site.

Vidal Auxilio of FORGE also added that the demolition should undergo due process, which includes 30-day notice but Noel Artes of SPEED said there was no such need because the structures were illegal per se.

When their houses were demolished before, most occupants just returned a few weeks or months later.

So far, Artes said they have demolished 28 houses in barangay Kasambagan while 11 families volunteered to demolish their own homes. Removal will continue on Monday. The city government will take care of transporting the displaced families back to their hometowns. On Tuesday, they will start demolition along Bulacao river, Guadalupe river and Kalunasan river. ###

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