LA TRINIDAD, Benguet – The administration of the State-run Benguet State University (BSU) will exhaust all available legal means to reclaim its properties that were squatted upon by informal settlers in order for the lands to be used for the implementation of its numerous expansion projects in order to accommodate the growing number of student population coming from the different parts of the Cordillera land the lowlands.
Former President Ferdinand E. Marcos issued Presidential Decree (PD) 2010 that established the Mountain State Agricultural College (MSAC) to cater to the education needs of deserving students from the depressed communities of the north and reserved a huge portion of land within the municipality to be used for educational purposes.
However, Dr. Ben Ladilad, BSU president, said because of the influx of people from the countryside to the urban centers, the properties of the higher education institution had been prone to the occupancy of informal settlers with some of them being able to acquire titles for their squatted lands among other illegal strategies.
As of May 2015, it was learned that the BSU legal services office was able to file 22 cases against those who informally occupied BSU properties considering that the said contested land holdings were reportedly u8nder the names of private individuals.
From that 22 land cases, one was dismissed in favour of BSU while another case was dismissed due to execution of compromise agreement between BSU and defendants.
Five suits were dismissed due to non-service of summons to defendants but nevertheless the same cases can be refiled when subsequent circumstances warrant it and that there will be compliance to the service of summons to the affected parties.
Furthermore, five land cases were endorsed to the Office of the Solicitor General covering court cases, claims, proclamations and executive orders releasing part of BSU reservation to some private individuals due to existing claims among other related issues.
Final demand or notices were also serve to at least six private individuals, some previous BSU employees who occupied or have encroached a portion of BSU lots through the years.
To date, cases involving the land holdings of the University, aside from those cases endorsed to the Office of the Solicitor General, have already advance to formal court proceedings. Sooner or later, local courts’ calendar will be clogged with cases involving the University as it progresses in defining its land boundaries.
“Finding a way out of these more than a half century old problem may prove riddled with intricacies but creating a good story for our next generations in the University to remember is definitely a better reason to keep going. We are moving and we are firm in implementing the law” Ladilad stressed.
Lands that were encroached within BSU were the 1,503 square meters in Swamp, the five areas in Balili adding up to 2,095 square meters, and the other five areas of Buyagan totalling to 3,294 square meters.