Settlement of boundary rifts in 3 Benguet towns nixed

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LA TRINIDAD, Benguet – The highly publicized 50-50 settlement of the boundary dispute among three municipalities in the province suffered a serious setback after an involved municipality and a barangay protested the said unfair and unjust settlement.

Under Resolution No. 100-2020, the Bakun Municipal Council urged the provincial board to defer the submission of the boundary dispute settlement of Bakun and Kibungan to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) pending the conduct of ocular validation and the finalization of documents.

The council stated that so as to avoid possible future complications and to reflect the real intention of the parties to the agreement, processing and submission of the settlement documents to the concerned government agency should be put on hold pending the conduct of site validation and finalization of the documents required for the said purpose.

On July 16, 2020, Bakun and Kibungan entered into a settlement agreement that finally ended their century-old political boundary dispute.

However, the council disclosed that the body had been recently informed by the local government’s technical personnel that based on their technical evaluation of the maps of both municipalities attached to the agreement, the same do not conform with what has been presented by the DENR personnel and agreed upon by both parties last February.

On the other hand, the Sagpat Barangay Council in Kibungan filed its protest to the 50-50 sharing of the disputed area located in the said barangay between Kibungan and Kapangan.

The barangay argued that based on the 50-50 sharing of the disputed area in the said territory, the barangay officials were disappointed to know that almost all of the disputed area will belong to Beleng-Belis, Kapangan and only a small area will remain in their jurisdiction.

According to the barangay, the unfair and unjust sharing as presented will definitely affect several properties and landowners in their territory.

Prior to the implementation of the settlement agreement, the barangay sought from the provincial board clarification on how the settlement will now affect the situation in the barangay, especially on the residents and land owners that will be displaced and affected by the questionable agreement.

The barangay suggested to the concerned provincial and municipal officials that the prepared ancestral domain map that shows a suitable demarcation of boundary lines be used as the basis in settling that dispute as the domain map was based on existing reel property tax declarations as early as 2000.

The signatories to the barangay opposition stipulated that because of the prevailing pandemic, most of them were not able to attend the meeting previously held at the provincial board as most of them are senior citizens and had been advised not to travel, aside from the difficulty of mass public transportation from Sagpat to the capital town.

The barangay also requested for future barangay consultations in settling the boundary dispute between Kibungan and Kapangan for purposes of transparency in the agreed conditions to prevent doubts on the agreed terms of the agreement that had been stricken by the concerned parties. By Hent

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