THEY came in droves to the covered court of Brgy. Tabun in Mabalacat Pampanga and patiently awaited their names to be called as beneficiaries of lots awarded by a private company through the officials of Excelsum Property Solutions Inc. (EPSI).
Some 176 “informal settlers” (IS) received their Certificates of Land Awards (CLA) from Engr. Elbert Aquino of Fiesta Communities and Hausland Development Corporation (Hausland) and EPSI represented by project manager Renard Robert “Bam” Masongsong.
For over a decade, more or less 300 IS have occupied the 40-hectare land owned by Hausland. It was EPSI that recovered the real estate property following more or less two months of negotiations with the occupants.
The 2-hectares for 40-sq. meter lot relocation allotted for each household, is located in Sitio Mamakita and Sitio Baler, also in the jurisdiction of Mabalacat. The LGUs would take care of the utility installation, Aquino said.
Some beneficiaries were also provided with meager financial assistance from businessman Willy Tan, owner of Hausland. They were divided and classified into four blocks.
The financial assistance would be based on the kind of houses they would be leaving behind. P20k for shanties, P30k for semi-concrete and P40k for full concrete houses.
There was quite some “resistance” from some IS but after talks with EPSI, they signified their willingness to leave the area, according to Masongsong. “EPSI does consultancy, land conversions, reclassifications or all issues that a landowner may have with regard to properties. One of our services is asset recovery and protection, katulad nito ‘yon,” he explained. Besides, this is a titled property, the owner pays taxes and not benefitting from it. The “recovered” land measured 40 hectares.
What they did he said is to talk to IS, “instead of filing cases against them for eviction or filing cases under Republic Act 7279 (An act to provide for a comprehensive and continuing urban development and housing program, establish the mechanism for its implementation and for other purposes.”) or penalizing squatting and other similar acts under the “Anti-Squatting Law Repeal Act of 1997.”
Masongsong lamented that there are still the existence of the professional or syndicated squatters or those who have sufficient income to afford legitimate housing but prefer to be IS. Hausland he said, is willing to help those living below the poverty line.
Meanwhile, Fiel Sacay, executive assistant to Mabalacat Mayor Crisostomo Garbo, said it’s the advocacy of the local government units (LGUs) to eradicate Mabalacat of illegal settlers or IS in 2022. “So far, all the public lands here have already been utilized,” Sacay said.
Giving the “awardees” livelihood projects as sources of income is already in the pipeline of LGUs.
EPSI president, Dr. Michael Jansen “Miko” Abella is one of the two signatories in the CLA. The other one is Aquino.
The awarding of CLAs is also part of EPSI’s corporate social responsibility or CSR, according to Masongsong. “Actually, this project or program emanated from the big heart of Hausland, which is a developer corporation and in social housing,” he added. Although no deadline was given the IS to leave, Masongsong believes that the latter will honor the contracts they signed.