The National Housing Authority (NHA) finally demolished what it considered as illegal structures at the Banilad Plains View Housing Project. Demolition was completed despite the vehement objection of eight families who insist they are the legal occupants of the lot. (see page 2 for related story)
NHA Region 7 corporate attorney Manuel Zosimo Ozoa says it has complied with the provisions of MEMO circular No. 2506 or the updated standard operating procedures governing summary eviction of illegal occupants and dismantling of structures in NHA-owned or administered properties. According to the provisions of Presidential Decree No. 1472, NHA shall have the power to summarily eject without the necessity of judicial order any and all squatters’ colonies or government resettlement projects as well as any illegal occupant in any homelot, apartment or dwelling owned or administered by it.
He said the process included more than one month of meetings conducted by the Project Inter-Agency Committee (PIAC) headed by Engr. Hermes Jude Juntilo. Said eight families refused to attend any of the meetings despite being invited continuously.
Three notices and demand letters were sent to the eight families and were also posted at the site. These called on the alleged illegal occupants to voluntarily vacate and demolish the structures built on the premises of the lot. The eight families ignored said notices saying that the law is on their side.
The demolition commenced on July 24 and was completed on July 31. This was to comply with the reglamentary period under MC 2506.
The Banilad Plains View Housing Project in barangay Banilad, Dumaguete City was conceptualized to respond to the need for housing of families affected and left homeless by the onslaught of typhoon Sendong and Pablo that hit the province on December 16, 2011 and those situated within the 20-meter easement of river banks and danger areas of the city of Dumaguete.
NHA acquired the 37,192 square meter lot from the Tale family in Banilad and had already titled the property in the name of NHA. Claimants of the lots are the families of Miguel Linaban, Rogelio Linaban, Beatriz Guidon, Magdalena Linaban, Elena Linaban, Medarda Linaban, Dixie Vallejo and Fortunato Linaban.
Very vocal during the demolition were sisters Beatriz and Mary Ann who cried foul over what they say was a lack of due process.
They asked the demolition team from NHA for the writ of demolition coming from the court because they were advised by their counsel from the Public Attorney’s Office (PAO) to ask for such document.
The Linaban sisters also claimed that they are in possession of documents that will disprove the claims of NHA but failed to present them during the demolition. They did present a copy of a petition before the Department of Agrarian Reform for a revocation of the land conversion from agricultural to residential.
Atty. Ozoa disclosed that NHA holds an approved land conversion order to pave the way for the construction of housing units for Sendong victims.
He said that during negotiations, the eight families were given first priority to be beneficiaries of the NHA housing site but they preferred to question the acquisition of the lot that caused delays in the implementation of the project.
Once the project is turned over to the city, Ozoa believes it will now be up to the city to decide whether these families will be given units in the NHA housing site in Banilad or for them to undergo the same process like the others in applying for a housing unit.
Tasked to construct the housing units is the local government unit of Dumaguete with funding from the NHA.
Despite the demolition being completed, the Linaban sisters said that the fight is not yet over. They intimated their plan to bring this matter before the Ombudsman and to the President.