With the Clarkhills Properties Corporation refusing to go back to the negotiating table, Angeles City Mayor Carmelo “Pogi” Lazatin Jr. said the city will now expropriate the contested land in Barangays Cuayan and Anunas where some 500 residential houses are located.
This, as Mayor Lazatin 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 to President Marcos 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.
Mayor Lazatin said the Angeles City in cooperation with the Angeles City Human Settlement and Urban Development (ACHSUD) formerly LUPAHO, will now start expropriating the land so that the tenants will legally own them.
Lazatin has already offered to purchase the property occupied by the tenants under the city’s socialized housing project to be awarded to the existing tenants.
Sheriff Elizabeth Marasigan of DARAB said she has referred the appeal of Mayor Lazatin to “Clarkhills Properties Corporation and Mr. Torralba himself denied such agreement has been entered into, specifically the submission of development plan and relocation. There is, however, a commitment on the part of Clarkhills to provide financial assistance.”
Mayor Lazatin had earlier urged the Clarkhills management to defer demolition and relocate affected families as agreed during their recent dialogue.
Mayor Lazatin has already informed Torralba the Angeles City government was “left blindsided” by the letter of Sheriff III Elizabeth Marasigan, of the Department of Agrarian Reform Adjudication Board (received by Lazatin on October 13, 2023) which notified him 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.
These scheduled demolitions apparently run counter with the agreements reached during a dialogue brokered by Mayor Lazatin between the tenants and the Clarkhills management.
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 said the tenants should be relocated and given assistance so that they can restart their respective lives.
Moreso, he instructed the ACHSUDO through Atty. Arvin “Pogs” Suller to conduct thorough mapping and tagging of the affected families to ensure that all of them would be properly identified and no one will be left behind as the city government strives to provide the best possible assistance to them.
Since the Clarkhills management now refused to sit down in the negotiating table, the Angeles LGU will now expropriate the land in favor of the tenants.
“No one should be denied decent housing. We are appealing for compassion from the Clarkhills management,” said Lazatin.
Mayor Lazatin said he will exert efforts to provide assistance to the affected families.