Councilor Ramos drops Masepla bombshell PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 17 March 2016 13:41

“Why is the City Government asking to build additional houses at the temporary relocation site in Masepla when there were more than 160 houses already completed but demolished by the same City Government?”

Thus Councilor Percival Ramos, chairman of City Council’s Committee on Ordinances and Resolutions, posed this question as officials of CDRRMC, City Engineer’s Office, City Planning, City Legal Office and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) representative of Zamboanga were invited by the City Council last Tuesday to shed light on the status, issues and condition of the Masepla transitory site in Mampang.

The IOM representatives and City Legal Office did not show up. Councilor Ramos, made a Powerpoint presentation showing pictures and videos comparing the previous and actual condition of the Masepla transitory site. His presentation also included documents like the 2014 Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) and the draft of the amended MOA that Mayor Beng Climaco transmitted to the City Council and asked that she be given the authority to sign the same for and in behalf of the City Government of Zamboanga.

What was supposedly a simple and seemingly innocent amended MOA, turned out to be a bombshell when certain controversial issues and conflicting statements were given by the city officials that were present, according to Ramos.

Originally there were 400 houses built and completed in the Masepla transitory site. Out of the 400 houses, only 239 were occupied and 161 houses were unoccupied. The 161 unoccupied houses were completely demolished by the City Government, according to Ma. Socorro Rojas, OIC of the Housing and Land Management Division.

Rojas in previous interviews gave the same statement. The CDRRMO chief Dr. Elmeir Apolinario also said that the City Government is the one who demolished the houses at Masepla Transitory site.

In the course of the dialogue and questioning of the members of the City Council, it was unearthed through the statement of Ms. Rojas, that DSWD gave donations to IOM for the construction of the 400 houses at MASEPLA. Rojas explained that DSWD downloaded funds to IOM which implemented and completed the construction of the houses that were turned to the City Government.

The question now is, why did the City Government demolished some of the houses at Masepla transitory sites and now asking again to build additional houses at in the same site? What is the reason? Now the City Government is asking for approval of a new MOA to build additional houses at the transitory site.

Originally, many of the City Councilors were of the impression that foreign donations were given to IOM for the implementation of the houses at the Maseplatransitory site. But Rojas stated that it was government funds from DSWD that were given to IOM for the construction of these houses.

“If indeed it was the City Government that demolished the 161 unoccupied houses, many more intriguing and controversial issues and questions are now raised.” Why ask for more houses when 161 unoccupied houses were demolished by the same City Government?” Councilor Ramos asked and continued asking.

“Did the City Government asked permission from the IOM to demolish the houses?  Did the LIAC approve the demolition of said houses? Did the City Government ask permission from the COA for the demolition of said houses? How come the City Engineer’s Office do not know how many houses were demolished”.

Opposition Councilors Jawo Jimenez and Kim Elago started to question the line of questioning of other councilors and were hard-pressed with the answers given by the resource persons. The Council session lasted almost 4 hours and the discussions were heated. There were many other controversial issues that came out in the dialogue like the request for the Council to authorize the construction of a road in Mampang when in fact the construction of said road has started and near completion even before the request was made.

When Councilor Ramos presented the resolution to the City Council, in the spirit of transparency and accountability, he moved to request from the City Mayor’s Office a listing of all monetary donations coming from local/international organizations and individuals the opposition Councilors Elong Natividad, Jawo Jimenez, Kim Elago, Rudy Bayot and Pin Pin Pareja started to walk-out of the session hall and never returned.

Ramos asked “are these Councilors against the Resolution of Transparency and Accountability?” These Councilors allied with Mayor Climaco even asked Councilor Ramos why is there need to put words such as IN THE SPIRIT OF TRANSPARENCY and ACCOUNTABILITY in the resolution presented.

In spite of the walk-out of the Councilors clearly aligned with Mayor Beng Climaco, the Council session continued as there was quorum. (Pers Ramos)