The Angeles City Council has passed resolutions that allowed Mayor Carmelo “Pogi” Lazatin Jr. to initiate expropriation proceedings or to purchase parcels of the contested land at Sitio Balubad, Barangay Anunas, for the city’s socialized housing project.
The Angeles City Council led by Vice Mayor Vicky Vega-Cabigting has passed Resolutions No. 10973, S-2023, and Resolution No. 10972, S-2023, authorizing Mayor Lazatin to initiate expropriation proceedings for the properties located at Sitio Balubad, Barangay Anunas, Angeles City, subject to the failure of the negotiation with the owners – Clarkhills Properties Corporation – and to purchase of parcels of land for the city’s socialized housing project, respectively.
Both Council resolutions were sponsored by Councilor Atty. Arvin Suller, chairman of the Committee on Human Settlement and Urban Development were unanimously approved during Council Session held on Tuesday, October 17, 2023.
This, after the Clarkhills management had reportedly reneged on the results of the dialogue brokered by Mayor Lazatin between the indignant tenants and the Clarkhills manament represented by its president Oscar A. Torralba.
On September 15, 2023, Mayor Lazatin said “it was agreed upon that the scheduled demolition will be put on hold and status quo shall be observed until such a time that Clarkhills presents their development timeline to the city and the relocation and distribution of financial assistance to the affected families to be provided by Clarkhills, has been carried out.” Mayor Lazatin, Torralba, and the tenants are scheduled to sit down anew to finalize relocation proceedings but the Clarkhills management now refused to sit down in the negotiating table.
On October 13, 2023, Sheriff III Elizabeth Marasigan of the Department of Agrarian Reform Adjudication Board (DARAB) has notified Mayor Lazatin the demolition will be implemented on October 16-19, 2023, in Barangay Cuayan at 9am; and on November 6-10, 2023, at the same time in Barangay Anunas.
On Monday, the indignant Anunas residents battled it out with the demolition team who were sent to enforce the court order to clear some 500 households. A truck was burned down in the melee.
The Clarkhills management are trying to take control of some 73 hectares of the property in Barangay Anunas where the tenants are located. Most of these tenants received their Certificate of Land Ownership Awards (CLOAs) and Transfer Certificate of Titles (TCTs) under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP).
The CLOAs were awarded in 1998 during the administrations of former Presidents Joseph Estrada and Fidel Ramos.
On Monday, Mayor Lazatin has sought the assistance of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. “calling for a halt in the demolition of the properties in Barangay Cuayan and Anunas, Angeles City so that we may return to the negotiating table and renew our discussions with Clarkhills and the Department of Agrarian Reform Adjudication Board (DARAB).”
In a letter dated October 16, 2023, Mayor Lazatin said “the undersigned duly acknowledges the court order for the demolition; however, for humanitarian considerations, we are only appealing for more time to discuss the assistance and relocation for the families that will be adversely affected before the authorities proceed with the demolition.”
“Unfortunately, our plea fell on deaf ears. In a letter dated October 13, 2023, Sheriff Marasigan informed us that they will proceed with the demolition “unless a temporary junction is issued to suspend or cease the implementation of the writ,” according to Mayor Lazatin in the letter.
The letter further stated: “We were left blindsided by this development and, on the same the day, the undersigned wrote to both Mr. Torralba and Sheriff Marasigan requesting to hold in abeyance the scheduled demolition and to have another meeting with them so that we may discuss the matter of providing assistance and relocation for the families that will be adversely affected by the demolition.”
Usec. Elpidio Jordan Jr., Chairperson and CEO, of the Presidential Commission for the Urban Poor, was also sent a copy of the letter to President Marcos.
“No one should be denied decent housing. We are appealing for compassion from the Clarkhills management,” said Lazatin. He said he will exert efforts to provide assistance to the affected families.
“There should be no social injustice,” said Mayor Lazatin.