BAGUIO CITY – Mayor Mauricio Domogan urged the public for understanding on the resetting to a later date the supposed demolition of the illegal structures that were erected over portions of the 5,000-square meter Benguet-Ifugao-Bontoc-Apayao-Kalinga (BIBAK) property along Harrison Road because of certain intervening issues that cropped up during the course of the planning and mobilization of the members of the demolition team.
The local chief executive admitted the repeated resetting of the scheduled dismantling of the illegal structures in the said property has definitely affected his credibility in the enforcement of the issued demolition orders plus the fact that the informal settlers are reportedly given special treatment considering the failure of the illegal structures to be removed so that the area will be used for its prescribed purpose.
However, he pointed out that the decision to reset the scheduled demolition last August 15, 2017 to October 15, 2017 was a collective decision of the local government and officials of the Cordillera offices of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) following the persistent lobbying of the representatives of the Presidential Commission on Urban Poor (PCUP) who committed to the inter-agency committee that the informal settlers will definitely leave the property.
“We appeal to the public to understand our decision to reset the schedule of the demolition of the illegal BIBAK structures because we have to consider various factors that affect the implementation of the issued demolition order. What is important is that we have agreed on the definite date of the demolition of the illegal structures and it was made clear to the informal settlers that they will voluntarily remove their structures on or before October 15,”Domogan stressed.
After the illegal structures shall have been dismantled, he pointed out that the property must be fenced and for representatives from the local government and concerned government agencies to work out the preparation of the master development plan for the property to include the put up of the dormitories to cater to the lodging requirements of poor but deserving students from the different parts of the region who opt to study in the city.
According to him, PCUP representatives assured the members of the inter-agency committee that the informal settlers will definitely leave the property once the requisites of their identified relocation site in La Trinidad town shall have been completed and the property will be ready to accommodate the structures of the informal settlers which will be built in the said area.
He claimed the PCUP representatives were even requesting for a longer period for the informal settlers to stay in the BIBAK property while negotiations with the owner of their relocation site are being undertaken but it was the concensus of the committee to give them only two months considering that the demolition had been rescheduled several times over the past several years.
Under their agreement, illegal structures that remain in the BIBAK property after the October 15, 2017 deadline will be dismantled by the members of the city demolition team while business activities of the informal settlers in the area should immediately stop.
By Dexter A. See