Congress folds housing controversy in MisOcc

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Ozamiz City — After all the fracas and roar over a property in barangay Lam-an Ozamiz City, the House of Representatives Committee on Governance finally folded the three  committee hearings on Monday, March 23, which highlighted the narrative of Ozamiz City Mayor Sancho Oaminal who provided the academic and legal details of the project before the eyes of SAGIP Party List Representative Rodante Marcoleta and the committee members.

The Lam-an Housing project caught Marcoleta’s attention after affected residents reportedly sought his help over to what they call as inhumane demolition of some informal structures in Purok 6, Barangay Lam-an in Ozamiz City April 24, 2020.

Given such claim by his fellow church members, Marcoleta called on the House Committee on Housing and Urban Development and Good Governance for a probe.

The SAGIP Representative aimed his gun to his fellow Deputy Speaker who is the Representative of the Second District of Misamis Occidental, Congressman Henry S. Oaminal and other government agencies in Misamis Occidental accusing them of illegal demolition among others in the light of the pandemic.

The controversy involved the demolition of five houses, of which four have been paid while one remain strong which is owned by the Neri Family, who happens to be a member of a church group known for block voting.

Marcoleta accused Oaminal of forcibly and technically evicting the residents during the pandemic, saying the later is heartless.

During the hearing, Oaminal however turned the table against Marcoleta saying, the local government of Ozamiz and not his office is on top of the situation as he revealed that the P50-million fund for the multi-purpose building (Housing Project) was included in the 2019 General Appropriations Act (GAA) of 2019, and the project is under the supervision of the Department of Public Works and Highways as the implementing agency coordinates with Ozamiz City Mayor Sancho Fernando Oaminal.

“My work as legislator here is to ensure that projects within my legislative district is funded and ensure that the people will benefit from the project,” Oaminal stressed.

On the question of illegal demolition, the Congressman said their city was under was only under general community quarantine and that the government must continue with its projects, including his thrust of providing housing to informal settlers in their barangay and the implementing agency for the project, have already secured writs of possession from their regional trial court to evict the residents and land owners.

“The Oaminals have no violent record. We are observant of the rule of law. We lead the district and the city with compassion. I appeal for their compassion towards their leaders because we have been working hard for the upliftment of the municipalities,” Oaminal said.

Mayor Oaminal for his part said families of informal settlers are properly taken cared of and every law was followed when the city government implemented the order of the court.

Interior and Local Government Undersecretary Epimaco Densing has earlier said the city government of Ozamiz did not violate any law when it implemented the order of the court “We reviewed the document and the complaint, we see nothing wrong with the demolition because there was a court order”.

National Housing Authority (NHA) General manager Marcelino P. Escalada earlier described the Lam-an housing project “A very ideal housing for informal settlers because they are not uprooted from their source of living and that is the new template of the government housing project”.

Oaminal in an interview with Newsline said, “The congressional hearing was in-aid-of-legislation, to whatever was its worth, it is up to the committee to weight things”.

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