Marawi IDPs who bought government housing units in Iligan evicted

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ILIGAN CITY, Philippines — Some 1,300 houses involving same number of families, mostly those who  fled during the Marawi siege will be evicted, for buying  a  house funded  by government  for typhoon  Sendong victims.

As of 11:00 am Monday, April 2, City Information Officer Jose Pantoja told Newsline.ph “We padlocked 20 houses, we need to enforce the law because the original awardees signed a contract with the government, which says they cannot sell the  housing units but it turned out they sold it, mostly to the internally displaces persons of Marawi.”

In 2011, the  City Government of Iligan, in cooperation with other agencies established 1,643 housing units, in a resettlement area for  typhoon  Sendong victims at  Bayanihan Village in Barangay Sta. Elena. It was free.

Of the 1,643 units, 1,300 were sold to various buyers and most of them are from Marawi City.

The houses were sold at P100,000 to P200,000.

Mayor Celso Regencia in a video posted last March 6, 2018 said the city government will implement that law because many of the recipients returned to the “No Build Zone” after selling their housing units.

Mayor Jesus Regencia (in white).-Photo Screengrab from March 6, 2018 meetings.

Mayor Regencia said  the recipients signed a usufructuary contract not to sell or transfer the said housing unit within fifteen years, “Abandonment of occupancy thereat by the recipient-beneficiary automatically reverts back to the government.”

In the same video, Regencia said “The recipient-beneficiaries were victims or survivors of Tropical Storm Sendong that hit Iligan City and Cagayan de Oro City on December 17, 2011. The Philippine government and various donors, from here and abroad, through Gawad Kalinga, built and donated these houses for the Sendong survivors whose original houses were flushed out by the flood.”

Before the Marawi crisis broke off, Pantoja said,  the local government conducted an investigation on the reported sale of government houses “But our inventory was stopped when the Marawi siege happened.”

But In October, they were alarmed by the influx of people in Bayanihan, which led to the discovery of massive sale of housing units, this time,  to the displaced residents of Marawi.

Pantoja said they immediately informed the local government of Marawi and Lanao del Sur and Task Force Bangon Marawi  “To look into the problem and find a solution to it, because it is against the government policy, but  they never responded to us.”

“It was a five-month process, we explained the law, we informed them about the legal implications, it pains us, but we have to do it,” he explained.

While the LGU  of Iligan understands the need of the Marawi IDPs for shelter, Pantoja said, it remains a fact that selling a government-funded house is a criminal offense.

Those who sell and buy the housing units will be charged for violating “Republic Act 7279, otherwise known as the Urban Development and Housing Act of 1992, clearly prohibits recipients of government-awarded housing units from selling their property,” Pantoja said.

Under the law,  the seller and buyer face criminal case.

The sellers, however, will be penalized by re-distributing their units to other Sendong victims, he said.

“The government will award the returned units for Sendong survivors who until now don’t have their own homes, and are willing to live at the Bayanihan,” he said.

“Mayor Celso Regencia is dealing with this in peaceful manner to resolve this matter,” he said.

Lawyer Jovani Encabo, the legal consultant of Regencia, according to Pantoja, explained to the new occupants that the law must be implemented, “Some argued but ultimately, they went out of the house and we padlocked the unit.”-Editha Z. Caduaya/Newsline.ph

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