BAGUIO CITY – Mayor Mauricio G. Domogan ordered the personnel of the City Buildings and Architecture Office (CBAO) and other concerned departments to immediately conduct an inventory of informal settlers within the Busol watershed to prevent the city’s premier water source from being further squatted upon.
The local chief executive issued the directive after City Building Official Engr. Nazita F. Bañez made a request for an inventory of the illegal structures within the watershed prior to the issuance of the demolition order for the removal of such structures constructed by land speculators in the said area.
“We have to remove the illegal structures that were erected within various reservations in the different parts of the city. We have to do it now to prevent the situation from going out of control in the future, thus, we have to make sure that the encroachments to our reservations are prevented to impress upon speculators that the local government means business in addressing the construction of illegal structures,”Domogan stressed.
He said part of the efforts of the local government, in coordination with other agencies, to protect portions of the watershed from squatting is to fence the 112-hectare portion of the reservation that is located within the jurisdiction of the city and demolish all structures that will be found to have encroached in the said watersheds.
Busol watershed has a total land area of 336 hectares with 224 hectares located within the capital town of La Trinidad, Benguet while the 112 hectares is within the jurisdiction of the city.
Domogan said the demolition of illegal structures earlier identified within the watershed had been overtaken by various equally important issues and there are reports that more illegally constructions have been observed in the area. These must be removed immediately before more informal settlers come in to damage the watershed.
The local government remains firm in demolishing illegally constructed structures in various portions of the watershed to clear the reservation from buildings and replace them with trees to improve the supply of potable water to over 40 percent of residents in the city.
Busol watershed is the source of at least 20 percent of the city’s potable water supply while 70 percent is being sourced by the Baguio water District (BWD) from underground sources.
He said the concerned departments must fast-track the necessary validation and inventory of illegal structures so that demolition orders could be issued for their immediate removal.
Domogan claims the local government will uphold the preservation and protection of forest reservations to guarantee their protection from encroachments so that the local residents will be able to enjoy the benefits of trees in the said watersheds./By Dexter A. See