Twenty-six houses were demolished by the Bacolod City Legal Office Composite Enforcement team in Purok Magnolia, Brgy. 7, yesterday to give way for the creation of an access road from 15th-Lacson streets to Ochoa Street.
City Legal Officer Joselito Bayatan said they were supposed to eject the squatters last May yet, but yielded to the appeal of the residents to give them ample time to prepare and even voluntarily demolish their houses.
Bayatan said that, of the 26 families, only nine filed an injunction case with a prayer for a temporary restraining order against the city government, which Regional Trial Court Branch 49 Judge Manuel Cardinal dismissed.
He said seven families volunteered to be relocated at the lot owned by the city government in Arao, Brgy. Vista Alegre, while eight families were absorbed by the Urban Poor of Purok Magnolia Chapter Inc..
UPPMC president Evangeline Gallero said the 23,063 sq. m. property or approximately 3 hectare lot, where their houses are erected, used to be owned by the Government Services and Insurance System that was acquired through a negotiated sale about 20 years ago.
Gallero said that 5,146 sq. m. was purchased by the city government and is intended for the road lot, foot walks and alleys, while GSIS, through a board resolution, agreed to offer all the remaining parcels of land to the members of UPPMC
She said that in 1998 their association, which is duly registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Home Insurance Guarantee Corporation, were able to apply for the Community Mortgage Program.
Despite the ample time given them by the city government, some residents still regarded the demolition of their houses as a “heartless” move because the city government did not heed their request for again another extension until summer next year.
Anabelle Base, one of the residents, said her husband’s family has been living in Purok Magnolia for over 33 years now and seeing their houses being demolished was heart-breaking.
Others claimed that the city government is pushing through with the construction of the access road because a branch of the Marriott Hotel will be constructed in the area.
Bayatan said the access road will be constructed to help decongest the traffic at the Lacson area.*APN