BAGUIO CITY – The Baguio Water District on Tuesday gave members of the United Pinget Homeowners Association a 15-day deadline that started almost two weeks ago to fulfill their commitment to undertake measures to protect the Buyog watershed or lose the chance to have the lots they occupy segregated.
Mayor Mauricio Domogan on the same day relayed BWD General Manager Salvador Royeca’s ultimatum to the officials of the barangays concerned and urged them to immediately comply with the requirements in coordination with the City Buildings and Architecture Office.
The mayor said Royeca expressed dismay over the residents’ failure to come up with the standard water-tight waste water disposal system in their own homes and threatened to withdraw his endorsement of the segregation if the association will not comply within the deadline.
The installation of the septic tanks is one of the requirements stipulated in the Memorandum of Agreement forged in 2016 by the members of the association numbering 745, the City Government, the Dept. of Environment and Natural Resources Cordillera (DENR-CAR) under regional executive director Ralph Pablo and the BWD.
In the MOA, all the agencies agreed to work out the segregation of the occupied areas from the coverage of Proclamation No. 93 declaring Buyog as a forest reservation but set conditions to protect the remaining unoccupied areas.
Royeca endorsed the segregation subject to conditions that no further intrusion of buildings should be allowed in the area, that the existing breaches of openings in the existing fence should be closed to prevent entry of unauthorized persons; that residents should be required to install sealed septic tanks; and that the residents should be informed that they have a personal stake in preservation the watershed as it is their primary water source.
Recent BWD inspections revealed that most residents have not complied with the septic tank design prescribed by the CBAO which as per the MOA should have been installed within 30 days from the signing of the MOA.
Pinget Punong Barangay Pablo Pawi Jr. said the residents complied and built their own septic tanks but most were smaller than the model because of lack of available space.
To help the residents, the mayor tasked the CBAO to employ remedies to make their installations compliant with the standards.
Pawi along with West Quirino Hill Kagawad Anselmo Tao-ing and Lower Quirino Hill Punong Barangay Van Dicang committed their barangays’ cooperation to fulfill their obligations to the MOA.
Apart from the septic tank requirement, the MOA stipulates that the DENR-CAR in coordination with the BWD will conduct a survey of the actual occupied areas of the watershed and that upon identification of the inhabited portion, the occupants will not expand into the unoccupied areas and will undertake measures to help protect the watershed from intrusion by squatters.
The agreement also mandates that the occupants will maintain their structures for residential purposes and will be prohibited from transferring their rights over the allocated lots.
It also provides that a core group will be formed to monitor the strict compliance of the association to the terms and conditions of the MOA, submit annual report on the compliance of the individual members, report any intrusion to the watershed and in coordination with the city government and the DENR-CAR will undertake an annual tree-planting program to reforest what remains of the watershed.
By: Aileen P. Refuerzo