BAGUIO CITY – Mayor Mauricio Domogan last week called off the demolition at the Benguet-Ifugao-Bontoc-Apayao-Kalinga (BIBAK) lot along Harrison Road set for Jan. 26-27 after the occupants committed to dismantle their structures and vacate the premises before July 1.
The dwellers numbering 59 submitted a commitment under oath dated Jan. 25 where they also “appoint, constitute and name the Philippine National Police, City Demolition Task Force, the Office of the City Mayor and the City Building and Architecture Office… to cause the demolition of the remaining structures in the area on July 1.”
“We declare and swore that this authority is irrevocable,” they affirmed.
The mayor said the demolition will be suspended until July 1 to allow the occupants to comply with their commitment.
The Presidential Commission on Urban Poor (PCUP) worked out the commitment. Earlier, the mayor was also informed that the agency will help the affected parties transfer to a relocation site.
The dismantling operation has been reset several times after the parties took the case to the court and later when the PCUP intervened for the occupants.
The Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch V last Oct. 28 declared as valid the demolition order issued by the city government and dismissed the two cases filed by the lot occupants aimed at stopping the city government from implementing Demolition Order No. 24 series of 2015.
The same court last Oct. 22 denied for the second time the petitioners’ motions for the issuance of a temporary restraining order to hold the demolition.
Last Sept. 9, the court first denied the motion citing earlier rulings that the claimants have no right over the lot and thus over the structures they built on the area because they do not own the lot and their buildings were not authorized by the owner of the lot.
The city wanted to clear the area of the dwellers who the city said do not possess building permits and who are not members of the urban poor and are using their structures for business purposes without care for sanitation and order.
The demolition was also supported by the Regional Development Council-Cordillera Administrative Region (RDC-CAR) and the DENR-CAR which said the “petitioners’ occupation has no legal basis and neither can they qualify as beneficiaries under (Republic Act) No. 10023 (Act Authorizing the Issuance of Free Patents to Residential Lands) because the lot is not alienable and disposable.”
The mayor said that after the demolition, the city will shift its focus on developing the property. He said a technical working group will be formed to work on fencing the property and on drafting a master development plan in cooperation with the stakeholders./Aileen P. Refuerzo#