Land claims hound Davao City’s sports complex project

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/07 April) — The city should consider looking for another location of its sports complex instead of building it inside the University of the Philippines Mindanao campus due to unresolved land claims over the area, an official said Tuesday.

Vice Mayor Paolo Z. Duterte told reporters the proposed site, a 20-hectare lot inside the campus, would affect the claimants at Sitio 117, Bago Oshiro.

There are 32 land claimants at UP Mindanao but it was not clear if all of them live within the 20-ha site.

The city council may consider looking for another site if the claims were not resolved soon, Councilor Bernard Al-ag said during the regular session of the city council Tuesday.

Settlers in Sitio 117 found an ally in some councilors and Duterte who said the city should instead use the initial P200-million fund for the project from the 2015 General Appropriations Act to buy another lot in the city where the complex could be built.

Residents of Sitio 117 came to Tuesday’s session of the city council to manifest how the project would affect their livelihoods.

Alfredo Logronio, who represented the residents, said they have been living within the campus since the 1930s.

After World War II, Ohta Development Company, which ran an abaca plantation in the area, left it to the care of the residents, he said.

In 1997, after the UP Mindanao campus was established in the site, the government has deprived the residents of their rights to the lots they have been occupying, he said.

He stressed the residents would only leave the area if their livelihoods can be assured.

According to the 1997 Memorandum of Agreement between the city and UP, the university would be responsible in relocating the claimants.

Budget not assured

Duterte said he questioned the funding terms for the proposed P8-billion project, citing that the initial disbursement from the GAA approved last year only amounted to P200 million.

He added there was no assurance from the national government that the project could be continued after the initial phase of the construction.

The city council learned that in 1997 the city government, through Mayor Rodrigo R. Duterte, signed a MOA with UP Mindanao for the creation of the sports complex.

The council referred the item on the proposed complex back to the committee on rules and privileges after getting hold of the 1997 MOA on the project.

“The problem with this item is that we keep on talking about the P200 million, when the total amount of the project is P8 billion,” Duterte noted.

“But the project will affect some residents. Why should we add to their problems? … If we can, we should consider using the funding to purchase a lot and develop the sports complex there,” he said.

The vice mayor said the city should not just think of relocating the residents to 100-square meter lots, for example, if they have been tilling lots as huge as two hectares each. “The committee should consider other factors.”

He added the city should not rely on national government funding for the project. (MindaNews)