BCDA, homeowners group lay claim to Jusmag land
A word war has broken out between two groups which are both claiming a portion of the 35.5-hectare Jusmag property in Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City.
Last week, one of the parties involved in the dispute—the Consular Area Residents Association Inc. which is composed of homeowners—claimed that the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) had threatened to evict them from the Diplomatic and Consular Area which, according to them, was not under the agency’s jurisdiction.
The group’s representative, retired Colonel Benjamin V. Zabat, said they received an eviction notice on July 20 from BCDA which contained a final warning for them to leave their houses as these were facing demolition.
In their reply to BCDA, Zabat pointed out: “The land that you wish to remove structures from is not part of the [BCDA-owned] Jusmag property. Our land is part of the Consular Area which even your own website acknowledges is not part of the BCDA.”
“Your notice is therefore inapplicable to us and unallowable,” he said.
Zabat claimed that those facing eviction were “veterans, retirees, active personnel of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and civilians and their family members.”
He added that their eviction would be a violation of the Urban Development and Housing Act.
His claims, however, were disputed by BCDA president and CEO Arnel Paciano D. Casanova who said that Zabat’s group represented just a minority of the informal settlers who were facing eviction.
In a statement issued Wednesday, Casanova said that the Consular Area Residents Association Inc. was composed of just 21 families.
According to him, 277 families or around 93 percent of the illegal residents occupying a 10-hectare area on the Jusmag property have already agreed to avail themselves of the BCDA’s relocation program.
He said that on top of the 277 families, another 204 had voluntarily vacated the area while 107 others opted for outright cash.
On the other hand, 69 families chose to relocate to the National Housing Authority resettlement site in Rodriguez, Rizal.
Casanova added that 20 other families who were disqualified from the relocation program opted to voluntarily dismantle their houses anyway.
As for Zabat’s claim that the BCDA has no jurisdiction over the disputed lot, Casanova cited a Supreme Court ruling in 2006 which allowed the government to take possession of the Jusmag property despite opposition from the Southside Homeowners Association Inc. whose members were composed of wives of retired military officers.
He also cited a certificate of compliance on demolition issued by the Taguig City government on July 18 as he added that the BCDA had coordinated on its relocation program with the Local Inter-Agency Committee composed of the Taguig local government, the Presidential Commission for the Urban Poor, Commission on Human Rights, Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council, National Housing Authority, people’s organizations, the barangay chair in Fort Bonifacio as well as that of Southside in Makati City.
Earlier, Zabat’s camp threatened to go to court should the BCDA push through with the demolition of their members’ houses.
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