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Wednesday, June 19, 2024


Ever since road-widening started in the province of Southern Leyte, particularly, in the city of Maasin in the early 90’s, I have never heard of any family being justly compensated whose titled property was taken by this project, except rumors that they’d somehow get compensated “in the near future”. Sadly, no payment has ever been made until now.
How many houses were already demolished starting from brgy. Panan-awan to brgy. Pasay since it began? How many families were at least verbally assured of compensation after their houses were demolished? Doesn’t the government know that these families have the right to be compensated? I doubt if there’s one family that has already been compensated because until now this promise remains unseen.

What happened to the Law of Eminent Domain? Remember that all those houses and lot, titled or not, were built at family’s expense.

Under the Philippine Constitution, Article III, Section 9, “Private property shall not be taken for public use without just compensation.” And that just compensation must be given to the private property owner. Meaning, a compensation is “just” if the owner receives from his property a sum which is equivalent to the market value of the property. Therefore, by law, they can’t just demolish houses without due process or tell the owners to leave just because it’s a government project. As taxpayers and citizens of this country, they have the inherent right to a proper disposition. It’s as simple as that. And remember, to the detriment of those who served the public honestly, there are only two kinds of government these days, corrupt and honest. At one point in our life, have we ever thought and wondered under what government do we belong now?

But why until now the families affected by road-widening still haven’t received their just compensation since the government’s back hoes first struck the family’s front doors? Wouldn’t it be totally unjust if the government would simply ignore this legal provision? You can’t tell the families to forget it. Remember, the government gave this assurance. Where’s it?
I can see more road-widening projects are upcoming, making matters worse. This time from brgy. Matin-ao to brgy. Tunga-Tunga. How easy it is for a government to implement any road project, but how hard and sad it is for those families who are greatly affected by it. How can the government afford to demolish private properties without compensating those affected families while at the same the proponents are making money out of this project? Is this the new trend of local governance? Doesn’t this trend incite internal hatred among local residents towards the government? Don’t proponents realize the financial impact on the part of those who are affected? How long can they wait? How long can they endure? Will the story repeat itself when this project finally reaches brgy. Tunga-Tunga?

Let’s face it. This is not a time for self-preservation in the middle of the “plandemic” and stupid health protocols. Think of the majority who have been suffering financially because of unexpected events. For a government that only seeks to persevere on projects such as road-widening depriving local citizens of their rights to get compensated, mountain greening could be a good substitute for it which is even far more prudent and acceptable. I’d rather see the whole mountain of Southern Leyte full of trees and its coastal areas beaming in former glory than seeing private properties degraded, demolished, and uncompensated for self-glorification. How uneducated can we all be?
Fast-tracking government projects without public consent and taking of property at owner’s expense is quite unconscionable and unjustifiable, if not foolishly incomprehensible and obnoxious.

by Art Siga

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