BAGUIO CITY – Some 745 members of the United Pinget Homeowners Association forged a memorandum of agreement with three government agencies committing to protect what remains of the Buyog forest reservation preparatory to the planned disposition for housing purposes of the areas they have being occupying.
The agreement was signed last Monday by UPHOA head Victor Balidoc with the city government represented by Mayor Mauricio Domogan, the Dept. of Environment and Natural Resources Cordillera (DENR-CAR) under regional executive director Ralph Pablo and Baguio Water District under general manager Salvador Royeca and witnessed by city council committee on lands chair Leandro Yangot Jr. and punong barangays Van Oliver Dicang of Lower Quirino Hill and Rodolfo Rimando of West Quirino Hill.
The MOA stipulates that the DENR-CAR in coordination with the BWD will conduct a survey of the actual occupied areas of the watershed and that upon identification of the inhabited portion, the occupants will not expand into the unoccupied areas and will undertake measures to help protect the watershed from intrusion by squatters.
The agreement also mandates that the occupants will maintain their structures for residential purposes and will be prohibited from transferring their rights over the allocated lots.
It also provides that a core group will be formed to monitor the strict compliance of the association to the terms and conditions of the MOA, submit annual report on the compliance of the individual members, report any intrusion to the watershed and in coordination with the city government and the DENR-CAR will undertake an annual tree-planting program to reforest what remains of the watershed. The city through the city buildings and architecture office will design a water-tight waste water disposal system which will be constructed in each residence within 30 days from the date of signing of the MOA to protect the watershed from contamination.
During the signing, Mayor Domogan reminded the association members to abide by the terms of the MOA particularly in refraining from extending their structures.
“Please know that any new structure or extensions will be subject to immediate demolition so please cooperate,” the mayor appealed.
The city government, DENR-CAR and the BWD earlier agreed to work out the segregation of the occupied areas from the coverage of Proclamation No. 93 declaring Buyog as a forest reservation but declared the need to protect the remaining unoccupied areas.
Pablo endorsed the segregation while Royeca also signified approval subject to conditions including the forging of the MOA with the residents.
He said that no further intrusion of buildings should be allowed in the area, that the existing breaches of openings in the existing fence should be closed to prevent entry of unauthorized persons; that residents should be required to install sealed septic tanks; and that the residents should be informed that they have a personal stake in preservation the watershed as it is their primary water source.
“These conditions are sought to be imposed as our inspection has revealed that without these conditions being put in place, we will risk the irreversible contamination of the water sources,” Royeca noted. /Aileen P. Refuerzo