City Answers PCUP on BIBAK Lot Issue
May 9, 2015
BAGUIO CITY – The Benguet-Ifugao-Bontoc-Apayao-Kalinga (BIBAK) lot along Harrison Road is intended for housing needs of students from the BIBAK city government and the present occupants are illegally occupying the lots they are using not for residential but for business purposes.
The city government through city administrator Carlos Canilao stressed this in the reply to Presidential Commission for the Urban Poor (PCUP) chair Hernani Panganiban on the status of the BIBAK lot.
Panganiban earlier asked Mayor Mauricio Domogan to defer the implementation of the planned demolition of the more than 50 illegal structures in the area pointing out the need to observe proper procedures and to ensure that the rights of the owners will not be violated.
The PCUP took into consideration the settlers’ claim that they are members of the marginalized sector and have been occupying the BIBAK compound since 1982 and thus are qualified to stay in the area or be granted relocation privileges under Republic Act 7279 or the Urban Development and Housing Act of 1992.
In the reply, Canilao said the city through its anti-squatting and illegal structures committee is in the process of completing the investigation on the structures but initial results showed that the lot is not occupied by the BIBAK association but by private individuals who entered the property without permission from the authorities.
The said lot measuring about 5,000 square meters was segregated from Original Certificate Title No. 01 in favor of the BIBAK Dormitories Inc. in 1961 and thus “was slated to cater to the housing needs of the students coming from the BIBAK areas.”
Further investigations revealed that that the structures are being used “for profit” and do not appear to be occupied by members of the urban poor for their housing needs but by “wealthy people who are engaged in business in the area.”
Evidence showed that some of the structures are used as eateries, photocopying and computer rentals businesses, livestock sales, boarding houses, offices and others.
The structures are not covered by building permits and thus are considered illegal and proper subjects of demolition, according to Canilao.
Canilao further said that the demolition of the structures has been endorsed by the Regional Development Council and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources Cordillera (DENR-CAR).
The RDC In a resolution passed in 2013 supported the city’s plan to immediately demolish the illegal constructions in the area stressing the need to establish dormitories for the BIBAK constituents.
Last year, DENR-CAR OIC regional director Paquito Moreno also supported the city’s demolition plan in the area as he turned down the petition of the OCT No. 1 settlers to own the lots they are occupying.
Moreno said the DENR being the administrator of the lots under OCT 1 has advocated of the “best use” of the property and a demolition to be executed by the city mayor’s office will help the department enforce its mandate.
“Sadly, the occupation of the land by the petitioners is bereft of any legal basis and thus, can never ripen into ownership or possessory right. They cannot be qualified beneficiaries… since the subject lot is not alienable and disposable land. We therefore reiterate that clearing of the area of informal settlers is prioritized and we solicit the occupants’ cooperation in making it a peaceful and orderly proceeding,” Moreno said.
In the letter to Panganiban, Canilao said the city “has always observed due process and the other requirements of the law in the issuance and implementation of all demolitions in Baguio City.”
“Under the premises, we are compelled to proceed with the ongoing investigation, as it is our mandate under the Local Government Code. Rest assured that the City will comply with all the requirements of law, as maybe applicable under the circumstances,” Canilao said./A Refuerzo