DAVAO CITY – Farmers living in the area in the University of the Philippines Mindanao compound where the city and UP is set to build an P8-billion sports complex said they cannot give-up their lots as it remains to be their only source of livelihood.

“We want the project to be re-aligned,” said Allan Logronio, president of the 117 Bago Oshiro Homeowner’s Association.

In an interview after Tuesday’s City Council session which included a discussion on the sports complex, Logronio said that what he meant by “re-align” is “for UP to use a 23-hectare lot still within the area but without inhabitants and without crops that will be destroyed.”

Logronio, with other farmers, said they “cannot agree even if they pay us.”

“They can pay us millions but once it is spent, we have nothing. In our lot we have crops which can sustain us,” said a woman farmer who refused to give her name as their lawyers advised them not to comment further on the matter.

However, Logronio and the farmers declined to comment further saying they have been advised by their lawyer not to preempt their case in court.

The sports complex is a joint project between the city government and the University of the Philippines Mindanao campus to be built inside the university’s 20-hectare lot in Mintal.

Former President Fidel V. Ramos issued Presidential Proclamation 822 in 1996, which reserved the 2,044,312 square-meter BPI Land Reservation in Bago Oshiro, Tugbok District for the use of UP.

Farmers said they have been in the area since 1936.

Mayor Rodrigo Duterte in his Sunday television program called the farmers “squats” who wants to have a “claim” in the area.

Duterte said he will personally supervise the demolition of the farmers’ homes and other structures if they do not possess building permits on what he said as “government property.”

He said the property in San Gabriel in Bago Oshiro, Mintal is owned by an Army reservation.

The farmers said they already submitted documents to the office of Duterte.

During Tuesday’s session, the city council passed on second reading an ordinance granting  Duterte authority to sign a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the University of the Philippines.

John Christopher Mahamud, representing the City Legal Office, said the MOU will give “legal authority” to a technical working group they earlier formed with UP.

He said the TWG will make study why previous legislations, like the Memorandum of Agreeemnt signed by the City and UP in 1997 on the same project were not implemented.

Mahamud said that in their previous meetings, they have come-up with various recommendations which may later be contained in a new MOA.

He said issues such as handling of the farmers and other details would still be discussed by the TWG.

First District Councilor Bernard Al-ag, chair of the committee on rules and privileges, said farmers inside the 20-hectare lot “expressed their support and withdrew their resistance” in a committee hearing.

He said residents should allow the TWG to do their work on the property to “help them on their claims.”

Logronio, who was also called to air their side during the session said that “the property in San Gabriel which the Mayor referred to is not the same.”

Al-ag said that he has a copy of the same map asked but leaves it to the TWG “to consider other areas” within the reservation. (davaotoday.com)

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