PNoy stops Libingan eviction

by Mike Frialde and Jaime Laude, The Philippine Star

Posted at Jun 01 2014 11:08 AM | Updated as of Jun 01 2014 07:08 PM

MANILA - No less than President Aquino ordered the Philippine Army to stop its scheduled demolition of houses located at a reserved area of the Libingan ng Mga Bayani in Taguig City.

Mayor Lani Cayetano said yesterday the President personally informed her and her husband, Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano, on Friday night that the demolition scheduled tomorrow by the Philippine Army Task Group Bantay (PATGB) will no longer push through.

Cayetano earlier warned the Army against going through with its scheduled demolition of houses of around 2,000 families in Katipunan Village on the grounds that it would violate the Urban Development and Housing Act as well as the Constitution.

According to the community leaders, the affected residents – mostly retired soldiers and their families – were granted permission by the Army to erect houses in the 1990s.

“In behalf of the 2,000 families living at the Libingan ng mga Bayani, I thank the President for his quick response. We are lucky because the President listens to reason. Because of the President’s quick response, I hope that the tension in the area will ease and the residents’ lives will return to normal,” Cayetano said.

Meanwhile, Army spokesman Lt. Col. Noel Detoyato said Army officials are “consulting our legal advisers” and will not yet issue an official position on the matter.

In a notice of eviction dated May 22, signed by Capt. Edgar Torre, the PATGB informed the residents that they are illegally occupying Katipunan Village, which is composed of Sitio Masagana, Sitio Masigasig, Sitio Maliwanag and Sitio Matatag in Barangay Western Bicutan.

In its notice of eviction, the PATGB also said that the eviction and demolition set for tomorrow will be done in coordination with the local government.

Cayetano, however, said the PATGB neither coordinated nor consulted with the city government on the demolition.

“The meeting you called on May 21 can hardly qualify as coordination. During that meeting, you merely announced that the demolition will push through. The local agencies registered their strong objections and reminded PATGB the Urban Development and Housing Act and its implementing rules and regulations,” Cayetano said in her urgent letter to Col. Ramon Estella, PATGB commanding officer.

Cayetano’s letter was personally delivered by Taguig City officials and leaders of the affected community to the headquarters of the PATGB Friday afternoon.