LA TRINIDAD, Benguet– The municipal government will not succumb to any pressure that may come from the State-run Benguet State University (BSU) and its partner on the proposed put up of a 4-story mall within a portion of the university’s property right in the heart of the valley.
Mayor Romeo K. Salda stated that the municipal government will ensure that whatever development in the university properties will pass through the stringent guidelines on the issuance of the required permit for the project.
He said the position of the municipal officials on the project had been made clear to the BSU administration and the developer and that the project must pass through the stringent permitting processes established under existing laws, rules and regulations.
The municipal chief executive admitted that the issues and concerns related to the proposed BSU mall project are sensitive as experienced by the mall project of the municipality within its property along Km. 5 that is why rushing things will definitely have an impact on the project.
According to him, one of the sensitive issues the BSU administration and the developer must address securing the free and prior informed consent (FPIC) of the indigenous peoples in the municipality after most of them have vehemently objected to the implementation of the project and even threatened to take back their properties using the principle of ancestral domain to prevent these from being used by businessmen for their money-making ventures that will be detrimental to the interest of the indigenous peoples.
He stipulated the municipal government has not yet acquired jurisdiction on the matter as there are no formal applications for issuance of permits filed by the developer that is why concerned offices cannot yet compel the project proponent to adhere to existing permitting laws, rules and regulations.
The municipal mayor revealed there are already been verbal oppositions raised by some sectors against the implementation of the project so the project will encounter rough sailing with the way things are going, thus, the need for a series of consultations for the BSU administration and the developer to appropriately respond to the queries of the concerned stakeholders.
Earlier, the municipal government put on holds the implementation of its proposed mall project at the property of the municipality along Km. 5 after concerned sectors raised various valid issues and concerns until the developer was not able to fulfill the stringent requirements of the municipality to allow the project to push through.
Among the contentious issues and concerns to addressed by the BSU administration is the projected traffic congestion, solid waste disposal, sewerage system, effect of the project to the environment of the place, noise pollution, competition with small, medium and micro enterprises that are already operating near the project site, displacement of existing structures and congestion in the area where the mall is to be erected.
Photo by Armando M. Bolislis