ITOGON, Benguet – Local officials remain open to the future conduct of negotiations with their counterparts from the nearby town of Bokod for the immediate settlement of their long-standing boundary dispute that will establish the permanent metes and bounds of both municipalities.
However, Mayor Bernard S. Waclin pointed out that the negotiations should be done between the punong barangays of Tinongdan in Itogon and Ambuclao in Bokod because the said barangays are the ones that will be affected by the ongoing boundary dispute.
Further, he claimed that whatever agreements that will be reached by the two parties will be confirmed by the barangay and municipal councils so that the permanent boundaries of the said barangays and the municipalities will be finally ascertained to prevent confusion among the residents living in the affected barangays.
Mayor Waclin disclosed that the boundary dispute between Itogon and Bokod had been extensively discussed between the said parties since he was a member of the municipal council for 9 years, and as a member of the provincial board for 6 years aside from his term as ex-officio member being the president of the Association of Barangay Councils (ABC) but no solution was reached because of the insistence of their counterparts of their positions.
During the previous term of the late Mayor Victorio T. Palangdan, the local chief executive narrated that the municipal government went to the extent of offering Bokod some 3,000 hectares out of the disputed area of more than 15,000 hectares but their counterparts never considered their offer to ensure the immediate settlement of their long-standing dispute.
According to him, even SN Aboitiz Power (SNAP) Benguet and the provincial government extended enormous assistance to bring both parties to the negotiating table and have them agree on a ‘win-win’ solution to the said dispute but the said efforts were in vain primarily because of the absence of any offer from their counterparts from which they will be able to start agreeing on certain issues and concerns.
In fact, Waclin stipulated that the municipal government even went to the extent of maximizing its offer for their counteracts to agree but such a proposal never materialized that caused the ongoing deadlock to the negotiations on the settlement of the boundary dispute.
He said that it is difficult to deal with individuals who have no counter offers to the proposals being brought to the negotiating table and for those that insist on their own position on disputes because no concrete solutions could be achieved for the settlement of whatever disputes that exist.
Itogon hosts the operation of large-scale mining companies and renewable energy companies in the municipality over the past several decades that paved the way for the municipality to be classified as a first class municipality because of the income derived from the operation of the said companies.