DAVAO CITY – The Davao City Council’s committee on rules and privilege is set to conduct another committee hearing this week in order to thresh-out issues on the construction of the city’s sports complex.

During the City Council’s regular session Tuesday, First District Councilor and rights and privileges committee chair Bernard Al-ag said they would conduct another hearing to accommodate the position of Mayor Rodrigo Duterte and other councilors on the demolition of farmers who reside in the area.

Duterte, in his Sunday television program, said that he will personally oversee the demolition of houses in the area where the supposed P8-billion sports complex will be built, calling its residents as “squats.”

The construction of the complex brought forth several issues including the fate of about 80 families who have occupied since 1936 a portion of the complex site inside the campus of the University of the Philippines Mindanao in Bago Oshiro, Tugbok District, this city.

UP Mindanao is the city’s partner in the project, which has received an initial funding of P200 million and another P50 million for the construction of arterial roads.

In the Council’s regular session Tuesday last week, a representative of the farmers said they want a “livable” relocation site and compensation for their livelihood once they leave the area.

However, the farmers said they have yet to get a “formal” proposal from UP.

Last Tuesday, the City Council heard the technical working group (TWG) composed of the city planning and development office and its partner in the project, the legal counsel of UP Mindanao.

The TWG was met with a roadblock in its hope of getting the Council’s nod on a new Memorandum of Understanding, which would establish a “formal relationship” with the city as there were already previous MOAs on the same project.

The TWG argued that the MOU would later pave way to the creation of a new Memorandum of Agreement which contains a more detailed discussion of the project.

Duterte and former UP President Emilio Javier signed a MOA in January 1998 which provided that UP will take care of the relocation and compensation for the farmer-occupants.

The MOA would later be supported by an ordinance and two resolutions, according to First District Councilor Bonifacio Militar, who was the chairman of the team tapped by Duterte to create the MOA.

Third District Councilor Victorio Advincula, Jr., maintained his argument last week that UP should facilitate the relocation of the farmers as the previous MOA is still binding.

“Therefore, it is UP Mindanao’s legal right and obligation, not the City Council of Davao City, to relocate and compensate these people,” said Advincula.

Advincula said UP signed another MOA in July 1999 with the Board of Liquidators (BOL).

However, Militar, who said last week that it was an “insult” to them who created the 1998 MOA to create a new one without an amendment, now said that the Council should have a “courtesy call” with Duterte.

“Common sense dictates that we have to talk with the Mayor. Whatever we insist thru an ordinance or resolution, if the mayor does not like it, we are sure losers,” said Militar.

He said “negotiation is better than displaying discourtesy to the other department.”

Meanwhile, Second District Councilor Diosdado Mahipus said the matter of the sports complex requires “expediency” and that the City can work with UP “and initiate the relocation of these people as the LGU is duty-bound relocate them.”

“We (can) join hands with UP in putting up with a scheme, plan and standard operating procedure, considering that City Mayor already made a public pronouncement that he cannot afford to let go of the UP-Davao sports complex.”

Al-ag said that while he already submitted a draft committee report, the committee would consider all the suggestions and revise it.

He said it would also now include the position of the Duterte and all positions including that of the executive department.(davaotoday.com)

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