LA TRINIDAD, Benguet – The municipal council approved on first reading a proposed ordinance prescribing the guidelines and procedures in the summary demolition of illegal structures or ongoing structures constructed or being constructed in watersheds, communal forests, and public places such as sidewalks, parks and the like, road-right-of-way (RROW) of national roads, waterways, esteros, danger areas and similar places.
The ordinance authored by Councilor Bartolome Baldas, Jr. states that the rules shall apply to the demolition of illegal structures built within watersheds, communal forests, public places such as sidewalks, public parks, RROW of national and local roads, waterways, esteros, danger areas and similar places.
Further, the said rules shall be liberally construed to promote its objective in protecting the environment and the clearing of public places of obstructions and illegal structures.
Under the proposed ordinance, any report or complaint regarding the building of new and ongoing structures in watersheds, communal forests, waterways or esteros shall immediately be investigated by the Municipal Environment Office (MENRO). Moreover, any anonymous complaint or even posts in the social media which are readily verifiable regarding the construction of new illegal structures within the said areas shall also merit an immediate investigation and validation by the same office.
The MENRO shall in turn inform the building official of illegal structures or ongoing structures built within the said areas. Subsequently, the building official shall determine if the structure is covered by a building permit. Thereafter, the same official shall issue the necessary certification as to whether the structure is covered by a building permit or not.
Immediately after the conduct of the said investigations, validation and plotting, the MENRO shall eventually issue a notice of violation attaching the certification from the building official addressed to the owner of the structure informing the same that his or her structure is built within the prohibited areas in the municipality. The owner shall be informed to remove the illegal structure shall be removed within 72 hours upon receipt of the notice of violation, otherwise, the structure shall be subjected to summary demolition.
If the owner of the illegal structure is unknown or if he or she refuses to identify himself or herself, the same shall be addressed as John or Jane Doe where the notice of violation shall be left to any person with sound discretion who may be present at the premises of the illegal structure.
After the lapse of 72 hours from receipt of the notice of violation or the posting of the said notice within the premises of the illegal structure and the owner shall have not dismantled the questioned structure, the MENRO shall make the necessary report to the Mayor for the issuance of the required demolition order. The same shall be implemented within 15 days from its issuance and it shall be valid until the illegal structure shall have been fully demolished.
The ordinance tasks the MENRO to spearhead the implementation of the demolition order with the assistance of the building official.
Similar rules and procedures shall apply to illegal structures that were built on public parks, sidewalks, RROW of national and local roads, danger areas or similar places.
The ordinance points out that vested rights of legitimate claimants in watersheds shall be protected.