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Dumaguete City, Philippines Wednesday, April 6, 2016
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Sibulan demolition reset

The implementation of the writ of demolition scheduled Monday until Friday, issued by the Supreme Court against 49 houses in Maslog, Sibulan, was postponed to a still undetermined date.

This is because the counsel for the more than 200 residents continues to question the ownership of the nine-hectare lot supposedly owned by brothers Bruno III and Jose Ramon, both surnamed Bouffard, of Bais City.

Lawyer Coleta Aranas-Campanale said she just read the copy of the writ of demolition and asked the court that she be allowed to study it after its former lawyers left her clients due to busy schedules.

She said she believes the residents still has a fight, and encouraged them not to give up while requesting the sheriff, Normal Tale, to reconsider several things, foremost of which is the relocation site of the affected families.

She said this is a case of an unlawful detainer which she claimed was decided by Municipal Circuit Trial Court Judge JaenaTangenge-Laguda without a cause of action; even the notice to vacate which should be in writing could not be found in the complaint, and this is one of the most important requirements of the unlawful detainer case. Basically, the complaint is null and void, she pointed out.

She said a civil case for ownership or annulment of title and a case for cadastral issues are being filed by the residents pending the resolution in court and that a case for certiorari was filed before the Regional Trial Court on April 1, with injunction, prohibition and mandamus with prayer for a temporary restraining order.

Originally, there were 77 defendants in the case for ejectment and damages filed by the Bouffard brothers, represented by their attorney-in-fact, Caraciolo Dago-oc, but 33 of them have transferred to a relocation site nearby, three did not answer and one was dropped from the complaint because his house was located outside the contested area.

Earlier, residents put up a human barricade and waited for the demolition team, saying they will not vacate the place no matter what happened because they have been occupants of the lot since 1957.

Couples Francisco and Monina Ramirez, believed to be the leaders of the group, said they have documents to show that in 1957, their parents have applied for ownership of the land which they claimed was approved in 1964. Seven years later, they were told by the Bureau of Lands to apply for a tax declaration and they had been paying taxes from 1971 up to the present.

They said they were surprised to hear in recent years that the Bouffard family was able to get a title of the land even if they were the first to apply for it, being a public land.

Sibulan Mayor Emmanuel Diputado has stepped in to help the affected residents, and requested the court for consideration and enough time for their relocation, Campanale said.

She said her clients are 99 percent in possession of the land, and one percent away from being the lawful owners of the property.

Meanwhile, the presence of indigenous peoples, headed by a certain Joker Elmer Montiel and Sultan Sibuyad, who identified himself as the national chairman of the Confederation of Ethnic Tribes in the Philippines, made the situation more complex because they claimed the affected families are their members, and cited provisions of Republic Act 8371 or the Indigenous People's Rights Act.

Sibuyad and Montiel went to the site and requested that they be given enough time to hold more dialogs with the Bouffard family.*JG


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