TUBA, Benguet – Residents of barangay San Pascual formally rejected the proposal of the Baguio City government to put up a state-of-the-art commercial piggery farm in a private property within the jurisdiction of the barangay for the proponent’s alleged lack of transparency of the proponent about the matter and the expected effect of the farm to the environment.
Municipal officials and residents who attended the third and final public hearing called for the purpose of securing their consent for the project raised the issue on the personality of the cooperative composed of piggery owners from Baguio City in entering into an agreement with the barangay and the municipal government when it should be the city government that should enter into the agreement with the barangay to provide for the terms of the project.
Further, some of the residents also raised concern on the stability of the source of their water when the operator of the commercial piggery farm will be allowed to make drilling activities in the area that will result to the eventual depletion of their water supply, aside from the threats of pollution to the bodies of water situated in the area.
Earlier, the Baguio City government entered into a deed of usufruct with a private lot owner in barangay San Pascual for the use of the property for the put up of the state-of-the-art commercial piggery farm to be operated by the cooperative composed of piggery owners from Baguio City for a certain period of time to serve as their source of livelihood after the city government started prohibiting the presence of piggery farms in the city pursuant to existing laws, rules and regulations.
Initially, there were two public consultations conducted by the city government and the commercial piggery farm proponent in the barangay purposely to secure the consent of the affected residents and the barangay council to pave the way for the processing of the environmental compliance certificate (ECC) for such environmentally critical project.
Mayor Clarita Sal-ongan expressed surprise over the outcome of the third and final consultation considering that such issues should have been raised in the previous consultations for the proponent to have clarified such concerns of the affected residents.
She claimed she was not able to attend the two initial public hearings conducted in the barangay for the said project purposely to allow the people to be able to raise their issues and concerns for the proponents to address, thus, she was intrigued on why some of the residents insisted that she will attend the third and final consultation for them to be able to air their views.
Sal-ongan said that it is really difficult to convince the people in the municipality that their barangay will not be simply a dumping ground of Baguio City because the issue had been a long standing one even with the proposal to establish the Baguio-La Trinidad-Itogon-Sablan-Tuba-Tublay (BLISTT) growth area the local chief executive said that the residents were able to raise their concerns, including on why it will be the cooperative that will give the 2 percent share from net income of the piggery farm instead of the city government, and their decision not to endorse the project was based on the answers that have been generated from the available resource persons and even Baguio city Mayor Benjamin B. Magalong who claimed that the city government will not insist on the project if the people are not in favor of it.
In a related development, Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong Feb. 18 said the city will no longer push through with the contract piggery farm it is working with Tuba municipality in Benguet after town officials rejected the plan for the second time.
The mayor told the city management committee meeting that the city will instead look for other livelihood programs where they can infuse the P12 million grant from the Dept. of Agriculture initially reserved for the centralized farm to relocate urban hog raisers.
Talks between the two local government units failed to take off Feb. 15 just as the city was about to plan for the ground-breaking ceremonies after noting progress on the acceptability of the project among the residents of San Pascual barangay following a series of consultations and a farm visit in Tarlac and Pangasinan.
It was the second time that negotiations between Magalong and Tuba Mayor Clarita Sal-ongan broke down; the first involved another lot due to issues on land and water pollution, location, accessibility, ownership, additional funding and other matters cropped up in July last year.
The second deal was for a lot in San Pascual whose owner already entered into a usufruct agreement with the city government to allow its use for the Department of Agriculture-bankrolled modern piggery farm.
The mayor tasked City Veterinarian Dr. Brigit Piok whose office now includes the agriculture division to work out with the DA the possible realignment of the grant to other livelihood opportunities, possible button mushroom production and other communal projects beneficial to the residents.
By Hent with reports from Aileen P. Refuerzo