By LITO RULONA
BARANGAY 33 chairman Conrad Lim on Thursday broke his silence over the controversy surrounding a reclamation area in Lapasan even as he accused Mayor Oscar Moreno of turning the dispute over the property into a political issue.
Lim told Magnum Radio on Thursday that he was willing to talk with representatives of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), the Philippine Reclamation Authority (PRA) and the Office of the Solicitor General about the Lapasan property.
The property, a result of a reclamation project by Lim years ago, is in the way of a coastal road project that could not be completed by the DPWH because the barangay chairman has asserted that he owns it.
“Dili ako lisod istoryahon. Gi-gamit man nila ang politika. Pag-uswag lamang unta sa Cagayan de Oro ang hisgutan, dili ang politika,” said Lim.
He said he felt that he was being singled out as the cause of the delay in the project construction, and blamed for the city’s worsening traffic problem.
Lim said there were other right-of-way issues that also needed to be resolved in Barangay Puntod.
“Naunsa naman kini? Natingala ako nga ako man ang gipasanginlan sa tanan. Ang traffic sa Agora nga layo ra sa akong property and the traffic caused by the opening of SM, ako man gihapon ang gi-blame. Natural ang traffic sa bag-o nga tindahan kay daghan ang mo-anhi. They should have planned it well before sila nag-open,” said Lim.
Lim also denied Moreno’s claim that the mayor berated him because of the controversial property in Lapasan.
He alleged that Moreno sought favors from him.“Dili man kadto tungod sa project. Naa siya’y gipangayo nako pero wala ko mosugot. Mao siguro siya nasuko pero dili tungod sa coastal project,” he said without elaborating.
Lim asserted that he has a right over the reclamation area, claiming that he was given a permit by the PRA in 2008.
He claimed that the PRA even commended him because he was supposedly the only one who applied for a reclamation permit before undertaking a reclamation project.
“Before ko nag-reclaim nakapangayo na ako og permit. Ngano nga ako man ilang gibanatan nga naa pa’y upat sa Barangay Puntod nga nag-reclaim pud sa ilang area? I was singled out,” Lim said.
He said he applied for reclamation permit covering some 2,000 square meters in 2007, and it was approved in 2008.
Lim said the DPWH started the construction of the coastal road in 2010 after he completed the reclamation.
The matter, he said, has been brought to the attention of Public Works Secretary Mark Villar who then sent a team that included PRA representatives to inspect the disputed property. Lim said the team issued no negative statement after that.
Lim said it was the DPWH that made a mistake, citing a law that supposedly provides that road projects should be 50 meters from the shoreline so that private properties would not be affected.
He said the DPWH project was originally planned to be extended to Barangay Bugo but it was diverted to the “Galaxy” area in Barangay Gusa.
“Na ba diay coastal road project nga mo-paingon sa national highway?” he asked rhetorically.
Lim alleged that the reason why it was diverted to the highway in Gusa was because “mga dagko nga company ang ma-igo.”
Lim said he followed a legal process in applying for a reclamation permit, and he expects the same process in the expropriation proceedings.
“Dili ako supak. Ipaagi lang sa insakto nga proseso bisan mabinlan akong yuta og mamahimong triangle,” he said.
A lawyer, James Judith, earlier warned that he would sue any government official who would cause the disputed property to be subjected to expropriation. He argued that public domain cannot be subjected to expropriation proceedings.
Mayor Moreno, a lawyer by profession, has shared a similar position.