BAGUIO CITY – Mayor Mauricio G. Domogan criticized the officials of the Presidential Commission on the Urban Poor (PCUP) for their failure to consult the local government before coming out with a request to defer the demolition of the over fifty-eight illegal structures erected within the premises of the Baguio-Ifugao-Benguet-Apayao-Kalinga (BIBAK) property along Harrison Road.
The local chief executive said the latest request of the PCUP to defer the demolition of the illegal BIBAK structures that was scheduled this week without the benefit of getting the side of the local government is unfair and unjust because the new set of PCUP officials have been misled into believing the plight of the informal settlers.
“The matter has already been passed upon by former PCUP officials and the new set of PCUP officers should have studied the problem before coming out with the deferment request,” Domogan stressed.
While the local government can just ignore the deferment request and pursue the demolition of the illegal structures, he claimed there is still a need for the city to submit its comprehensive answer to the request, arguing that the squatters are not registered as members of the urban poor, and that the structures built are being used for business activities of the individuals involved in the squatting problem.
Domogan claimed the informal settlers are already confused on what to do because they again filed a petition for temporary restraining order before the local courts when the earlier similar petition was dismissed by the Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 5 that stated that the informal settlers have no right to be in the government property without the appropriate titles to the land and the required building permits for their structures.
According to him, some of the informal settlers have approached him and signified their intention to abide by the dismantling of their structures but some of their colleagues disagree with their plan and instead decided to fight it out with the city through all legal and administrative means.
It can be recalled that no less than PCUP Chairman Herminigildo Panganiban and two Commissioners conducted an investigation on the reported squatting within the 5,000-square meter property and found out that the informal settlers were not members of the urban poor and most of them have built structures being used for business activities aside from the area being a health hazard due to its unsanitary condition.
Domogan said the demolition of the illegal structures has been ruled in favour of the local government and is being fully supported by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the Regional Development Council (RDC) in the Cordillera that passed a resolution supporting the removal of the illegal structures to be used for its prescribed purpose which is temporary shelter for students coming from the different parts of the region wanting to pursue their studies in the city.
By Dexter A. See