BAGUIO CITY June 11 – The city government wants the active participation of all concerned sectors in the crafting of a sustainable master plan for the proper utilization of the over 5,000-square meter property of the Benguet-Ifugao-Bontoc-Apayao-Kalinga (BIBAK) lot located along Harrison Road once the over 50 identified illegal structures shall have been demolished.
Mayor Mauricio G. Domogan is optimistic that the two Commissioners of the Presidential Commission on Urban Poor (PCUP) will be able to complete their report after having visited the area last week so that the PCUP will be appraised on the real issues surrounding the property and for the demolition to push through the soonest.
“We welcome the recommendations of everyone so that we will be able to craft a sustainable master development plan for the area. Initially, the proposal to put up a Cordillera village is a laudable proposal,” Domogan stressed.
The local chief executive pointed out the city government wants to address the concerns raised by the PCUP in their request to defer the demolition of the illegal structures that were erected in the area, then the planning on the proper utilization of the property involving all sectors will be done in order to put order on the strategies to be undertaken.
According to him, it is not true that the existing occupants of the BIBAK property are members of the urban poor considering that a number of houses in the area are being rented out thereby making the stay of the illegal settlers income-generating at the expense of the government property.
Earlier, the Regional Development Council – Cordillera Administrative Region (RDC-CAR) passed a resolution supporting the city government’s move to demolish the over 50 illegal structures that were erected on the BIBAK property.
According to him, the owners of the properties that were already issued demolition orders even went to the office of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to appeal their eventual eviction from the place but the agency officials stood firm on their earlier support to the local government’s move to remove the squatters in the area.
When asked on the proposal of the officials of the BIBAK Student Dormitories, Inc. to manage the area after the demolition of the illegal structures, the local chief executive cited there is a need for everyone to take things one at a time so as not to pre-empt whatever efforts that are already in place in order to achieve the overall goal of removing the illegal structures built over the public property.
He cited the owners of the illegal structures could not reason out that their structures are not being rented out to students among others because it was already proven in earlier investigations that most of the properties are being leased out for the existing occupants.
He added the issuance of business permits by the city government to the owners of the illegal structures is again not a conclusive proof of ownership that is why it could not be used by the occupants to justify the non-demolition of their properties considering that all administrative remedies have already been exhausted by the city for them to peacefully leave the place but it seems they refuse to do so and that they are now claiming ownership of the property which should not be the case.
By Dexter A. See