BAGUIO CITY – A local legislator has been proposing for a 2-pronged approach for the city government to curb the alleged proliferation of informal settlers in the different watersheds in the city that pose a serious threat to the state of the city’s environment.
Councilor Peter C. Fianza, chairman of the Committee on Education, Culture and Historical Research, said that when he was still the City Administrator, he already proposed the implementation of a 2-pronged approach to curb the existence of informal settlers in the different watershed areas, especially the Busol watershed, one of the biggest watersheds in the city that had been intruded by a good number of informal settlers.
The alderman recommended that informal settlers must be removed starting from the inside and going towards the outer portions of the watersheds to make sure that the affected informal settlers will voluntarily dismantle their illegal structures erected in the said strategic areas which pose a serious threat to the existing forest cover of the city’s major sources of water.
Further, he claimed that informal settlers must be given stewardships of the watersheds wherein their movements in the area will be limited to prevent further encroachments in the city’s forest reservations that might affect the supply of potable water that is being distributed to residents in the different barangays.
He asserted he will continue to be firm on the proposed 2-pronged approach to address the proliferation of informal settlers in the different watersheds around the city to help sustain the preservation and protection of watersheds that play a key role in ensuring the sufficient supply of water being provided to the different residences by the Baguio Water District (BWD).
Because of the limited alienable and disposable lands in the different parts of the city, migrants from the different parts of the highlands and lowlands flock to the urban center for livelihood even going to the extent of illegally constructing their houses in forest reservations in the different parts of the city.
Aside from the Busol watershed, the other forest reservations in the city include the Buyog watershed in the Quirino Hill and Pinget areas, the Forbes Park 1 and 2 that is located in the Gibraltar, Pacdal and South Drive areas, the Lucnab watershed, the Camp John hay forest reservation, the Camp 8 watershed, the Crystal Cave watershed and the Mount Sto. Tomas forest reservation.
Fianza asserted the need to have the political will among city officials to implement the said approaches as there will surely be resistance once city officials decide to implement the dismantling of the illegal structures erected in the different parts of the forest reservations.
Baguio City remains a townsite reservation pursuant to its century-old Charter and that the mode of disposal of alienable and disposable lands is through the conduct of public bidding.
By Dexter A. See
Banner photo by Armando M. bolislis