Public Attorney’s Office

The Public Attorney’s Office (PAO) may find itself in an awkward position of being the complainant, instead of legal defender, against a group of informal settlers occupying a lot it owns in Quezon City.

The PAO has been providing legal assistance to poor and underprivileged sectors of society like informal settlers who face eviction from the land they occupy albeit illegally.

Its legal assistance, among other things, normally consists of preventing violent implementation of eviction, representation in court cases, and sourcing out of relocation sites.

This time, it is PAO, not private land owners, which is appealing to illegal settlers to vacate its property on Commonwealth Avenue in Quezon City and to settle in a relocation site offered to them by the National Housing Authority (NHA).

PAO Chief Persida V. Rueda Acosta said the property is the site of the PAO’s Central Office building.

“Kailangan po mayari ito kasi proyekto po ito para sa bayan (This needs to be erected because this is a project for the people),” she pointed out in her recent Facebook post.

Acosta said the facilities being erected include a multi-purpose hall that can be used as an evacuation center during disasters.

She said that PAO bought the property from the NHA back in 2016.

But she lamented that 13 illegal settlers continue to stay on the lot despite notices.

“Kaya nanawagan po ako sa inyo (That’s why I am appealing to you),” she stressed.

“Tama na po ang mahigit na anim na taon na palugit sa inyo bago kayo mag-transfer at makipag-isa na kayo sa NHA sa pagpapalipat at pagpapa-relocate sa inyo (More than six years is enough time for you to already transfer and heed the NHA in the relocation),” she appealed.

On the part of NHA, Acosta said: “Sana po ang NHA bilisan na dahil fully paid na po ng PAO (Hopefully the NHA speeds up its relocation efforts because the property has been fully paid by the PAO),” she said.

“Sana mai-relocate na sila kaagad para wala nang problema ang DPWH at ang contractor (I hope they get relocated fast so that the Department of Public Works and Highways and its contractor will have no more problem in the construction), she added.

Construction at the site is ongoing despite the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, she also said.

Source: Manila Bulletin (