BONTOC, Mountain Province – Community people of Poblacion, Bauko joined Division Schools Superintendent Sally Ullalim in protesting the continued infrastructure works at the Bauko Central School athletic grounds.
In an interview, Poblacion barangay chairman Gerald Cajigan said that workers continue to proceed with the construction of the controversial Regional Evacuation Center despite an earlier agreement made during the August 28, 2018 dialogue among stakeholders that the works should be suspended until such time that the community people had been consulted.
Cajigan said that during the dialogue, all parties have signified their intent to go through the process of Free Prior Informed Consent which shall be administered by the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP).
It would be recalled that the Office of Civil Defense regional office caused the funding of the project but was opposed by the people and the Bauko Central School community saying that the area where the project is to be erected is owned by the Dep-Ed hence they should have been consulted. Moreover, they claimed that they will not allow the building to be put up on the area since it is used as a sports center. For many years, it was the venue of the district athletic competitions and was in fact used to host the 2009 provincial athletic meet.
During the consultation, the participants agreed that Ullalim will draft the letter asking the regional DPWH office to advise the contractor on the suspension of all public works at the project site. A copy of the letter reveals that it was received by regional DPWH office on August 29, 2018, a day after the dialogue. Until now however, the construction is ongoing.
But even when they oppose the ongoing construction, Cajigan clarified that they do not oppose the project. “We believe that it will bring development to the municipality but it should be built somewhere else. Not inside the sports grounds,” Cajigan emphasized.
A compilation of pertinent documents presented by the residents point out that the area where the Bauko Central School now stands was reserved as a school site in a survey conducted in 1909 and approved by the Director of Lands the following year. When the late Vicente Opeeg Castro was then the mayor of Bauko (1924-1928), he rallied the people to build a school building without government funding to house classrooms for a complete elementary grade school students. It was also during Castro’s term that the school ground was enlarged and developed with the free labor of the community people.
In 1973, the whole school compound was declared under the Department of Education as per Tax Declaration number 18002.