After an 11-year deadlock and 25 years of waiting with the harrowing feeling of being booted out of one’s home at any given day, occupants living in lots covered by the 93-1 land swap deal between the Cebu Province and Cebu City could finally breath a sigh of relief.
Thanks to Gov. Hilario P. Davide III and Cebu City Mayor Tommy Osmeña, who ironed out kinks on the agreement, paving the way for the dream of thousands of informal settlers in the city’s 11 barangays to become a reality.
On Friday, the two chief executives signed the deed of donation and acceptance at the City Hall Executive Building to seal the land exchange with which the idea came to float 30 years ago.
It was witnessed by beneficiaries, Capitol executives, as well as City Hall officials and urban poor leaders.
No better words to amplify the genuine empathy from Davide and Osmeña to the plight of informal settlers than those of Cebu City Councilor Mary Ann de los Santos.
“This is truly the ultimate personification of public service. A departure from the unfulfilled promise of politicians,” de los Santos said.
“It is truly an inspiration to witness elected public officials work so hard with genuine empathy to deliver the basic human needs,” she added.
Davide was elated that the exchange of properties finally came in full circle.
“We are extremely glad that the Province and the City have finally come to an agreement. This is a historic moment for all of us,” Davide said.
While the lots are intended for the city’s socialized housing programs, the governor said the land exchange is also beneficial to the Province as many people coming from the towns are living there.
Osmeña thanked Davide for helping the City make sure the land exchange to happen.
“I have never given up on you. Nakahibaw ko nag-agwanta mo og pila ka tuig…I would like to thank Gov. Junjun Davide. You are now free and liberated and you can now sleep better. You can now have a chance to show to the entire city that this place, called 93-1, it will bloom,” Osmeña said.
Osmeña went on saying, “We have won many battles these past months. This is the biggest victory of all, the 93-1.”
At least 5,000 occupants of the lots in Barangays Apas, Busay, Kamputhaw, Capitol Site, Kalunasan, Kasambagan, Lahug, Lorega, Luz, Mabolo and Tejero stand to benefit the land swap.
Under the agreement, the Province will give up 32. 4 hectares of its properties in exchange for 16.4 hectares of land owned by the City.
Aside from the lots spread across the 11 barangays, the Province will also hand over 1.5 hectares in the Department of Agriculture Compound on M. Velez St., Barangay Guadalupe; 2,358 square meters on Gorordo Ave., Barangay Lahug; and 577 square meters on Don Gil Garcia St., Barangay Capitol Site.
The Cebu City, for its part, will turn over a 2-hectare lot in the South Road Properties, with a market value of P2.5 billion.
It will also hand over to the Province its septage treatment plant in the North Reclamation Area and its property in Barangay Pulpogan, Consolacion town and return the ownership of Cebu City Zoo back to the Capitol.
The idea of giving informal settlers a lot, which they could claim theirs, surfaced during the time of former governor Lito Osmeña in 1988.
It was formalized by Osmena’s successor, former governor Vicente Dela Serna in 1993, through Provincial Board Ordinance No. 93-1.
After years of negotiations between the Cebu City and the Province, the land agreement was scuttled due to the differences between City Hall and Capitol officials. From thereon, the deal failed to move forward.
In the early 2016, the Capitol and City Hall opened talks again on the land exchange after it went cold for many years.
This resulted in the signing of a memorandum of agreement in December 2016 by Davide and Osmeña to resolve the land dispute.