Gov’t justifies house demolition, expropriation for airport project

The Department of Transportation (DOTr), through the provincial government of Bohol, has explained why it had demolished a residential house and enforced the court’s expropriation order on a lot located adjacent to the multi-billion peso new Bohol International Aiport in Panglao town.

The Local Project Management Team of the New Bohol Airport Construction and Sustainable Protection Project had also disclosed the lot’s location is crucial to the completion of the project as it provided members of Bohol media a chronology of events leading to the expropriation of the lot in question.

The issue stemmed from the case of Pascasio Bonggot and his family who hoped to get “just compensation” for the land expropriated for the use of government in connection with the building of the new airport.

The team said the expropriation case on the Lot No. 5164-A, Lot No. 5164-B, and Lot No. 5164-C are pending at the Regional Trial Court branch 49.

As part of the acquisition of properties, the team made a purchase offer to the landowners of the lot affected by the project.

A purchase offer was sent to the heirs of Ambrosia Hormachuelos care of Pascascio Bonggot on July 19, 2013, and the replywas expected 10 days after receipt. There was no reply received by the team.

A final offer was sent on July 8, 2014, by the team for the subject lots. It was made clear in the letter that non-action after 15 days means non-acceptance of the government’s offer in which expropriation proceedings be filed.
After which, the team said, there was no reply, and in effect rejected the offer of the government to buy their lots.

In an effort to save the trouble of an expropriation case, the government with the help of DOTr,tried to convince the owners to sell their lot. The government even tried to swap a property at barangay Tawala, with the property in question.

The team conducted a series of meetings to convince Bonggot for the swap or barter offer of lots. The provincial government of Bohol even reserved a house and lot for the resettlement site in Tawala, Panglao for Bonggot and sibling as they are among the project-affected families and qualified for such lot allocation.

Sometime in 2014, some of the team members including acting provincial administrator lawyer Mitchell John Boiser, Engr. Rosalinda Yu, Romeo Teruel with the barangay captain of Bolod Higenio Lorejo and airport consultants Yuki Todoroki and Rosalinda Paredes met with Bonggot at the residence of Panglao Mayor Leonila Montero at barangay Tawala.

The meeting was set up to seek the intervention of the mayor about the case of Bonggot. Despite the series of meetings, there was no deal closed. No comment was received after the government made a barter offer to the lot owners.

On July 3, 2015, Bonggot with Dr. Doloreich Dumaluan approached Gov. Edgar Chatto after the airing of the weekly media forum on air known as “Kita ug ang Gobernador.” Bonggot discussed his case with the governor. The governor referred to the team secretariat asking to review the concern.

The secretariat told the governor that a barter offer has been extended. The secretariat explained to the governor that the scheme was already been extended but was rejected. The secretariat said the formula should be “one is to one” scheme.

It was explained to the governor the formula used in the barter was based on the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) entered by the then Department of Transportation and Communication, Department of Tourism, Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines, and the Provincial Government of Bohol back on November 10, 2009.

The MOA was adopted to other lots which are going to be subjected to the barter scheme where lot owners did not object.

Of the 141 lot owners, only Bonggot rejected, the team said.

The MOA stipulates government lots will be valued at P70 per square meter while the privately owned lots will be valued at P60 per square meter.

As such, with the MOA, the one-is-to-one scheme is not feasible. The governor has no choice but to respect the policy adopted by the previous administration.

After Bonggot rejected the offer, the DOTC then filed an expropriation case of which the process started on December 11, 2014.

On June 25, 2015, a writ of possession was issued by the court. The writ of possession was served on June 29, 2015, but Bonggot did not receive and sign the writ and did not comply with the order of the court to leave and vacate the property.

A notice of compliance was served by the Sheriff but the lot owners did not receive the notice. The court issued on July 13, 2016, a writ of demolition but again the lot owner did not receive the writ 13 days after the date of issuance.

On December 14, 2016, the court issued an order of expropriation and the lot owners did not file a motion for reconsideration or a notice of appeal, as such the order of expropriation was deemed final and executory.

A pre-demolition conference was held on August 10, 2016, by the Commission on Urban Poor per compliance with Republic Act 7579. This is a critical step before any demolition can be done by the government.

The now Department of Transportation wrote to the provincial government informing the implementation of the demolition of the property to execute the order. The demolition was slated January 4 to 5 this year.

Sometime in December 2016, the lot owner through counsel filed a motion to hold the demolition. Due to the series of holidays, the motion was deferred after the holidays.

The Office of the Solicitor General filed a motion for reconsideration on the order of the court. The motion was granted on April 25, 2017.

The lot owner filed a motion on the motion for reconsideration. The court denied the motion of the lotowners and ruled the writ of demolition is effective and enforceable.

Lot owners now propose for the barter of lot but was denied by the court in an order dated October 4. This is done without prejudice to the acceptance of the lot owners to the proposal with a house and lot at the resettlement area plus payment of just compensation after due hearing.

The writ was implemented on October 25 and will continue up until October 27.

TENSION RISING

Reports said tensions rose during the demolition last October 26. The team was composed of personnel from the provincial government, other agencies and escorted by the police.

It was reported the police handcuffed Pascasio after being suspected to have a weapon on his person.

It was learned that the object tucked under the waist was a plastic soda bottle containing some water.

The lot owners said in reports that they were reluctant to accept the swap offer since the lot is given in exchange is smaller than the lot they have to give up.

The lot owners will have to contend with a lot measuring 250 square meters with a house. The house will be paid for P500 for 30 years. (Dave S. Albarado)

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