Notices of demolition were not signed by any judge and were posted a few days before the actual demolition.
By JUSTIN UMALI
LAGUNA – Hundreds lost their homes to clearing operations in Bacoor, Cavite in the afternoon of October 21.
Renato Pregil, a resident of Talaba VII, said in a phone interview with Bulatlat that a backhoe arrived on Sunday evening. “They started demolishing first thing the next day.”
Notices of demolition were first put up around Sitio Silangan, Barangays Niog I and Talaba VII,on Wednesday, October 16. Another notice was put up on Friday, October 18. Both notices, however, were not signed by any judge. According to the Urban Development and Housing Act, a notice of demolition should be issued by a court, and the notice should be given at least 30 days before the date of eviction or demolition.
Pregil, 47, has lived in Talaba VII for 25 years. He cannot recall any time where the local government or any private contractor tried to displace them. “They [local government] even told us to come to the City Hall if anybody tried to claim the property,” he said.
Real-estate company Leechiu Property Consultants plans to build a new tower of CBC Asia Technozone, an office building, in the area. However, the residents are unsure as to who is claiming the land in Sitio Silangan.
Pregil recounted that real-estate agents first went house-to-house roughly a month after a fire last July 5 devastated the community and left at least 150 families homeless.
Both Bacoor Mayor Lani Mercado-Revilla and Senator Bong Go assured the residents that the local government will assist them in rebuilding their homes.
The agents, however, advised the residents to sign a quitclaim deed and vacate their homes, offering P40,000 in assistance. The agents were unable to present any court order, proof of sale, or proof that they worked for LPC or any other company.
Pregil did not accept the quitclaim, asserting that they have the rights to the land. “What could I do with P40,000, anyway?” he asked. “That’s not even enough for rent.”
According to Pregil, some families decided to self-demolish out of fear that they would not get any money if they didn’t. Their homes, along with others who self-demolished on October 21, were the ones first hit by clearing operations.
Not all residents have left the area, however. Some, like Pregil, have tried to salvage what they can. “I had two cars,” he said. “Both of them are wrecked now. P40,000 won’t let me repair them.”
Pregil lives with his father and has no children. His wife is currently abroad as an overseas Filipina worker. “All I have with me is the law,” he said. “I know the law is on our side and the government has to uphold it. If President Duterte can’t do that, then he is a failure of a President.”
An estimated 900 families live in sitios Niog I and Talaba VII. Another round of demolition threatens to displace all the families staying in the area on Friday, October 25. But Pregil, and the rest of the community, are ready to fight back.