1,000 settlers invade BSU properties

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LA TRINIDAD, Benguet – More than one thousand illegal structures were erected by alleged informal settlers within a huge portion of the landholdings of the State-run Benguet State University (BSU) over the past several decades that stalled the implementation of vital development projects that could have sustain its momentum to soar to greater heights.

Engr. Feliciano  de los Santos, Director of BSU’s Land Reservation Office, stated that only 200 hectares of the institution’s over 605 hectares landholdings are considered to be clear from encroachments while the rest of the lands are either squatted upon or are being claimed by indigenous peoples in some barangays.

He added there are more than 50 pending land dispute cases filed by the university against informal settlers and that the same are still under litigation with the different courts and quasi-judicial bodies.

The BSU official pointed out that the filing of similar cases against identified informal settlers is taking some time because of the tedious processes involved aside from the fact that the cases should be filed individually against those who have been found to have encroached the properties of the university.

Earlier, Benguet Caretaker Congressman and Anti-Crime and Terrorism through Community Involvement and Support (ACT-CIS) Party-list Rep. Eric Yap urged the present administration of the higher education institution not to sell or donate the limited lands of the university so that the potentials of the properties could be maximized to the greater advantage of the school and for the benefit of the youth who decide to enrol in one of the prestigious state universities in the country.

Kevin Edward See, Chief of Staff of Congressman Yap, reiterated the lawmaker’s appeal to the BSU administration, saying that the institution should have its comprehensive master development plan that outlines the overall development initiatives to be undertaken in the next several years so that the potentials of such properties will be maximized to the greater advantage of the state university as a whole.

One of the proposals of Congressman Yap is for BSU to have its own version of a techno hub that will replicate the success of the existing techno hub of the University of the Philippines (UP) so that it will serve as an added crowd drawer for visitors to prioritize their visit to the country’s Strawberry Capital and contribute in bringing back the vibrance of the local economy in the province as a whole.

Congressman Yap and the BSU administration will be meeting in the future to discuss the possibility of working out the put up of the BSU techno hub in a strategic area within the university landholdings that will serve as a legacy not only for the present administration but also for the people of the province who shared their wisdom for the realization of the proposed development project.

BSU president Dr. Felipe S. Comila welcomed the proposal of Congressman Yap and agreed that the proposed techno hub will compliment his earlier plan to put up a government center within the university’s landholdings right in the heart of the valley. By HENT