The Anti-Squatting Program (ASP) starts the demolition of some houses and structures within the mangrove area in Sitio Bucana, Barangay Matahimik

The city government has started tearing down illegally built unoccupied structures in the mangrove area of Sitio Bucana, Barangay Matahimik.

Over 40 occupied residential homes, on the other hand, were given 30 days to vacate the area or face demolition.

Alex Hermoso, program manager of the city government’s anti-squatting program, said they will continue the removal of unoccupied structures in the mangrove area that has become the subject of controversy involving former city police chief Col. Marion Balonglong.

“Ito po ay tuloy-tuloy kasi mayroon tayong demolition order. Yong lahat na naninirahan sa mangrove area kinakailangang alisin, yong lahat-lahat ng nagtayo ng mga istraktura kinakailangan talaga tanggalin para manumbalik itong mga bakawan natin,” Hermoso said.

Hermoso said the 30-day extra time given to the illegal settlers is for humanitarian consideration.

He said it will commence when they all receive their notices to vacate (NTV). Copies of the NTV are now being distributed.

“Pang humanitarian consideration, may mga tahanan na. Nandyan na ‘yong mga anak [nakatira]. Binibigyan natin sila ng 30 days mula nang matanggap nila ang notice at mag-unti-unti na sila,” Hermoso said.

He also said that the number of households illegally occupying the area seemed to have increased as more took advantage of the COVID-19 crisis to build their homes.

Hermoso warned other individuals who are planning to build their houses in Bucana to not push through because the anti-squatting program will only tear them down.

“Doon sa mga may balak pang magtayo sa mga bakawan area, huwag na nilang ituloy kasi lahat yan made-demolish,” he said.

(With reports from Regine Longcayana)

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Jayra Joyce Cañete Taboada handles the law and order and the science and education beats. She is also a licensed professional teacher.