BAGUIO CITY – The planned clearing of easements of rivers and tributaries in the city may affect approximately 20,000 structures, Mayor Benjamin Magalong told Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu during the secretary’s visit Dec. 6.
The mayor said the city through the City Building and Architecture Office (CBAO) is in the process of identifying all illegal structures built within the three-meter natural bank of rivers and has issued second notices to those that have been validated.
The campaign is part of the city’s thrust to revitalize its water resources through the removal of illegal structures and encroachments that contributed to the rivers’ pollution.
CBAO’s Arch. Stephen Capuyan who heads the team on the protection of rivers, waterways and sewer lines said a total of 274 structures had been identified and validated in nine barangays from North Sanitary Camp to Imelda Village traversed by the Sagudin-Balili River.
Their owners had been served their second notices to give them time to voluntarily remove their structures.
Capuyan said that if they refuse to self-demolish, investigation reports will be submitted for the issuance of the notices of demolition en route to the issuance of demolition orders.
Capuyan agreed that around 20,000 structures will be covered by the demolition activities once they complete the investigation of all easements covering the rivers and their tributaries which apart from the Sagudin-Balili, Galiano also include Bued and Ambalanga rivers.
He said the team also composed of members from the City Environment and Parks Management Office (Cepmo) and the City Engineers Office is completing the stretch covered by the Baili river covers barangays surveyed are North and Sanitary Camp, Happy Homes Old Lucban, Camdas, Tabora, Trancoville, Private Road Magsaysay, New Lucban, ABCR, Brookside, East Modernsite Aurora Hill, Holy Ghost Extension, Honeymoon Holy Ghost, Imelda Village, Manuel Roxas, St. Joseph and Pacdal.
The campaign is anchored on Article 51 of the Water Code which provides that banks of bodies of water – rivers, streams, shores of seas and lakes – throughout their entire length and within a zone of three-meters in urban areas, 20 meters in agricultural areas, and 40 meters in forest areas are subject to easement of public use in the interest of recreation, navigation, flotage, fishing, salvage and swimming. No person shall be allowed to stay in this area longer than what is necessary for said purpose.
Under Presidential Decree 296, which was issued in 1973, natural or judiciary persons who have introduced improvements, or reclaimed and occupied portions of rivers, creeks, esteros, or drainage and other similar waterways are directed to report improvements and renounce possession and demolish structures or improvements they encroached upon./Aileen P. Refuerzo