Cebu urban poor residents protest against impending demolition

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Urban poor residents inside the Cebu International Convention Center (CICC) in Mandaue City, Cebu protested today, June 14, against the impending demolition of their homes. They assert their right to the promised 9.2 hectares of relocation land inside the CICC. The local government is pushing the demolition to pave the way for the construction of the One Stop Chop Center (Mandaue City Goverment Center).

The Tipolo Residents Association (TRA) said the residents received a notice of eviction on June 8, giving them 15 days to “voluntarily demolish” their houses.

Ursina Torregosa, TRA head, said they were surprised when the Mandaue Housing and Urban Development Office (HUDO) sent them a notice of eviction after promising to first relocate the residents to the “Pasilong sa Paradise” housing project, and then in the Maharlika Tipolo. “In fact, HUDO asked us for a list of our organization members to ensure their proper accommodation in a block in Pasilong, and in three buildings in the housing (project),” Torregosa said. The notice was sent a few days after residents submitted their list of names.

HUDO’s shady and illegal maneuvers are not new, Torregosa said. In February, the agency demolished Manlolo Lumbab’s house in Malibu, Subangdaku. Lumbab is a member of Kaming mga Lumulupyo nga Walay Sandigan (KALUWASAN), an organizations under the Kadamay-Cebu Association, which stands against demolition without clear relocation. The demolition of Lumbab’s house had no papers and did not go through the proper process.

The Nagkahiusang Kabus nga taga-Dakbayan sa Mandaue (NAKADAMA) supported the TRA and said that the notice of eviction without sufficient grace period and clear relocation is illegal. Many of the CICC residents are victims of fires in various barangays in Mandaue since 2019 who were relocated there by the local government. They live in unsafe and unstable structures. Despite protests and many dialogues, the Mandaue City government refused to let them return to their original communities.

The rallyists condemned the local government’s violations of residents’ rights, including their right to organize freely. Since the beginning of the year, local agencies, in cahoots with the 14th CMO ‘Katipanan’ Battalion and NTF-Elcac, have continuously attempted to evict them through intimidation, harassment, Red-tagging and zoning the area. The military even set up an organization (Tipolo Residents Organization or TRO) to dissolve the TRA and remove the obstacle to the demolition.

Last month, NAKADAMA reported that the military terror-tagged progressive groups by putting up posters around the CICC. The soldiers conducted an “active profiling” of TRA members, who are also under the Panaghugpong Kadamay-Cebu.

The rallyists demanded an audience from city officials and assurances that their right to housing is respected. They are against the very expensive and anti-poor commercialized housing project offered to residents. They know that the price of such housing projects were deliberately raised to discourage the urban poor and sell the buildings and houses to anyone who can afford and wants to.

AB: Cebu urban poor residents protest against impending demolition