By Juan Escandor Jr.
NAGA CITY---Heeding a call from affected families, Naga Vice Mayor Nelson Legacion has intervened to stop the demolition of about 30 houses last week in Barangay Cararayan in this city.
Legacion said the stalled demolition of some 30 houses was a result of a decision by the Department of Agrarian Reform Adjudication Board (DARAB) in favor of Wilson Luz, the present owner of the 14 hectares property.
He said when he arrived there was tension with two jeepneys loaded with men believed ready to carry out the demolition order while several policemen were also in the area.
Legacion said apparently only one occupant is considered tenant even though many of the occupants had been living there for decades.
He said he already talked to the lawyer of the DAR to advise the sheriff that there was no compliance of the procedure in demolition which is “no demolition without relocation.”
Legacion said he also informed Robert Bonifacio of the Presidential Commission on Urban Poor (PCUP) who has the obligation to assist the families should there will be no more remedy as to the decision of the DARAB.
He said the PCUP has the mandate to intervene and conduct pre-demolition conference before actual demolition is undertaken.
“All people involved in this case and concerned government entities are required to find solution, including relocation, as mandated under Executive Order 152 as amended E.O. 708 and the 2013 guidelines on police assistance in demolition or eviction involving homeless and underprivileged citizens,” Legacion said.
He said demolition will not be necessary if those affected will be given relocation because they will voluntarily dismantle their houses.
“It turns out that there is no pre-demolition conference which was confirmed by the PCUP,” Legacion said.
He said Bonifacio has committed that he would call for the pre-demolition conference before any demotion is undertaken.
Jesus Opiana, 68, the lone recognized tenant among the occupants in the 14-hectare property, said they resisted the demolition after the DARAB sheriff failed to show them documents regarding the demolition to be undertaken.
Opiana said the demolition team was assisted by policemen.
He said they resisted when a group of about 20 men were poised to enter their premises to dismantle their homes.
Opiana said he wondered why there were SWAT team, ambulance and fire trucks.
He said because they stood their ground the demolition team did not force their way.
Opiana said the occupants of the property came from three families which had grown to about 30 families already over the years.
He said the property was originally owned by Manuel Abella and was bought by Luz.
Opiana confirmed he was the only one recognized as tenant and his siblings occupying the property were ordered to vacate.
He said he did not agree that his siblings vacate the property so they stayed there.
Opiana said they stand their ground because they have filed revocation against the order for them to vacate the property.
“We will wait until the revocation order we asked from the court has already been settled,” he said.