Informal settlers invade 8-hectare city property in dairy farm

BAGUIO CITY – The City Legal Office and the City Social Welfare and Development Office (CSWDO) confirmed the presence of hundreds of informal settlers who intruded into portions of the 8-hectare lot within the Baguio Dairy Farm that was ceded to the city government by the agriculture department which should be used for the city’s priority projects.

Lawyer Rheenan Diwas reported during the regular management committee meeting presided by Mayor Benjamin B. Magalong that the informal settlers reportedly belong to the Cordillera Knights of the Old Cove, an urban poor association in the city through the years and whose members were the owners of structures that were earlier demolished by the local government a few years ago.

He claimed some of the owners of the previously demolished shanties alleged re-built their structures in the area as confirmed by the social preparation report of CSWDO accounting for a significant increase in the number of informal settlers therein since the demolition of the illegal structures temporarily stopped following a series of restraining orders issued by local courts.

Diwas admitted that the 3 lots having a total land area of over 8 hectares ceded to the city government for public use is squatted upon by an increasing number of informal settlers, thus, the need to institute appropriate measures further increase informal settlers that will complicate the problems of the city in the future.

Earlier, the Municipal Trial Court in Cities Branch 2 issued a Special Demolition Order for the dismantling of some 344 illegal structures within portions of the 94-hectare Baguio Dairy Farm but some property owners secured restraining orders that spared the big structures from being demolished up to date.

In her social preparation report, CSWD Officer Betty Fangasan disclosed there are some 147 shanties discovered in the area wherein the same were made up of light materials.

Of the said number of illegal structures, 112 are occupied by families while 35 are unoccupied whose owners only visit the area during scheduled meetings as some of them allegedly own houses in the different parts of the city.

Fangasan added the area where the structures have been erected is considered hazardous that pose a serious threat to the safety of the people living in the temporary shanties that were constructed by the occupants.

Mayor Benjamin B. Magalong claimed the city government urgently needs the available lot for the city’s 2 strategic projects needing substantial spaces, specifically the waste-to-energy project needing a total land area of 2.6 hectares and the proposed south-bound bus terminal requiring at least 4 hectares.

He claimed one of the good news for the informal settlers is the proponents for the 2 major projects are willing to provide the needed employment to the informal settlers for them to have sustainable sources of livelihood for their families who had been in the area for quite along period of time./Dexter A. See