UP Cebu expansion to displace community
(This article was first published in print in issue 12 of the Philippine Collegian on 13 September 2012.)
by Arra Francia
Around 1,000 families of Barangay Lahug in Cebu City are in danger of losing their homes of more than 50 years as UP Cebu expands its campus.
The UP Cebu administration is planning to build a new P60-million high school building as part of the college’s thrust to elevate its status from an autonomous unit to a constituent university, according to Jun Marr Denila, UP Cebu’s College Student Council (CSC) Chairperson
The UP system currently has seven constituent universities, including UP Diliman and UP Visayas. The administration of UP Cebu has been under UP Visayas until September 2010, when it was declared as an autonomous unit by the Board of Regents.
The P60-million budget for the construction of the new building will come from UP Cebu’s college development fund, said Denila. The project must be executed as soon as possible, or else the budget for the building’s construction will rechanneled to the funds for the whole UP system, he added.
The implementation of the project, however, would also mean the eviction of Barangay Lahug’s 1,000 residents from their present homes. To some of these residents, Lahug has already been their home for 50 to 60 years.
According to the Lahug Central Homeowners Association (LACHOA), UP no longer holds ownership of the land illegal settlers have occupied after they closed down the Cebu Junior College (CJC).
The CJC stood on the 14-hectare disputed lot donated by the provincial government of Cebu on March 11, 1963. However, UP has to revert the property back to the government should UP decide to close down the CJC, according to the deed of donation.
The two-storey building that formerly housed the CJC now serves as UP Cebu’s administration building. Yet the local government affirmed UP’s ownership claim while assuring the residents of relocation, said Denila.
Residents must be considered “underprivileged” to qualify for their city’s socialized housing program, said Cebu City Administrator Atty. Jose Marie Poblete in an article published on the local paper Sun Star.
However, the government has yet to lay down concrete plans as where the residents would be relocated, according to CSC Vice Chairperson Dyan Gumanao.
“Lalo na’t walang genuine consultation sa pagitan ng administration, residents, at [lokal na pamahalaan] na magbibigay ng maayos na relocation site sa mga residente, nararapat lang na hindi matuloy ang demolition na ito,” said Gumanao. ●
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