A MORE than 15-year-old land dispute ended for more than 3,200 families in Cebu City after the Oversight Committee on Housing convened by Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo was able to gather all stakeholders to waive their claims over the property.
Arroyo had convened the Oversight Committee on Housing chaired by Negros Occidental Rep. Alfredo Benitez to resolve the land dispute in Bgy. Apas, Cebu City to enable the urban poor housing beneficiaries, mostly composed of families of soldiers, to get their titles to their property.
During a hearing held at the Central Command in Bgy. Apas on Monday, Arroyo personally invited Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana to sign the compromise agreement in favor of the informal settlers.
It was the last act required to make the compromise agreement effective. It was earlier signed by the provincial government of Cebu, as owner of the land, and the city government of Cebu, which has jurisdiction over the residents.
The signing was witnessed by Arroyo to the jubilation of the hundreds of residents who attended the hearing.
The land in Apas has been owned by the Cebu provincial government since 1918.
In 1959, the province of Cebu donated a portion of the land to the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), consisting of 47 parcels of land.
The donation land had a condition that, in case of abandonment, non-use, or use other than military purposes, the ownership of the land shall automatically be reverted to the provincial government.
It was later discovered that only 14 of the 47 lots were being utilized by the military. The remaining lots were occupied by informal settlers.
In 2003, then President Arroyo issued Presidential Proclamation 409 which declared 18 of the 47 lots in Bgy. Apas as socialized housing site and for disposition to its legally qualified occupants that consisted of retired military officers and personnel.
Despite the presence of the Proclamation, the DND and the Cebu provincial government, with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC), signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) transferring the 18 lots back to the province of Cebu.
In addition, a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) was also carried out to supplement the MOU and to provide a framework for the turnover.
However, Cebu City government and the Alliance of Barangay Apas Community Associations (ABACA) filed a court case seeking to declare the MOU and the MOA null and void for being unconstitutional in the presence of Proclamation 409.
Late last year, the provincial government and the city government of Cebu agreed to end the dispute and signed a compromise agreement over the socialized housing property in favor of the informal settlers in Apas.