MARAWI CITY – Marawi City Mayor Majul U. Gandamra challenged the residents who accused the local government of land grabbing to show proof that they own the land.
“Kung halimbawa na hindi naman sa kanila wala silang maipakita, kung sa kanila naman meron silang mga papeles (If it is not theirs, they will not be able to show proof, otherwise, they would have documents to show),” Gandamra told Manila Bulletin in an interview on Monday, July 19.
Gandamra added that the government’s power of eminent domain allows it to expropriate any land for public use.
Gandamra said the subject properties were part of the previous reclamation area in the city and these are the four barangays namely, Datu sa Dansalan, Dansalan, Sabala Amanao and Datu Naga within Sectors 8 and 9 in Marawi City.
Residents have complained that they were denied entry into their properties for over three years. They also complained that their tax payments were refused by tax authorities. They also claim they are being denied building permits as properties would be sequestered by the National Housing Authority.
“We are long-time occupants of these properties with legitimate certificates of land title, and we cannot be dispossessed of our land without a proper court hearing and an order from the court. This violates all existing jurisprudence about private property rights,” said Atty. Ibrahim Mimbalawag, one of the affected residents.
Another resident who requested anonymity said they had no choice but to wait despite the slow pace of rehabilitation.
“Now it turns out that they were planning to ‘take’ properties without our knowledge and consultation with those directly affected,” she added.
According to a mapping expert from International Alert Philippines, the geographical maps claimed by the residents indicated that the areas are “beyond the reclamation area.”
“More than 11,000 individuals will lose their prime areas if they proceed with the sequestration of the properties,” Jorge Golle of International Alert said in a statement.
As to compensation, Gandamra clarified that if the affected property is private property, the owner will be compensated.
“Kapag private tinamaan ng project ico-compensate, kung sa gobyerno walang babayaran pero kung merong mga dating bahay doon, pamamahay doon tatanggalin at bibigyan ng housing (If it is private property it will be compensated, if it is government-owned there will be no compensation. But if there are other houses there it will be removed and they will be provided with housing),” he said.