Veterans battle over property

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Wednesday, July 9, 2014


THE United States Armed Forces in the Philippines-Northern Luzon Inc. (USAFIP-NL) Baguio-Benguet Chapter is aghast over the designation of Philippine Veterans Affairs Office (PVAO) as administrator of its property at the Camp Allen Military Reservation in Baguio City.

In a joint meeting of the USAFIP-NL, a letter from PVAO administrator Lieutenant General Ernesto Carolina informed Brigadier General Arnulfo Banez and retired Major General Fortunato Abat authorized and designated the PVAO to administer the said USAFIP-NL property at Camp Allen.

"We strongly oppose the takeover," Terie Pomar, chairperson of the Membership Committee, said.

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While Banez is the national commander president and Abat is his national commander Emeritus, Pomar said the organization does not recognize the order believing the organization does not have a national chapter.

Pomar noted Banez and Abat have no authority to task PVAO to take over their organization's property.

A portion of the Camp Allen Military Reservation was awarded to the USAFIP-NL on 1967 pursuant to Proclamation 424 approved by then President Ferdinand Marcos.

The USAFIP-NL has since occupied the site specifically the Headquarters Veterans Compound.

The developments and maintenance of the structure, along with the memorabilia of the veterans were built through the efforts of the veterans, their spouses, sons and daughters particularly the 66th Infantry Regimen.

Pomar emotionally told these efforts to retain the legacy of the veterans may no longer be of importance if another management took over.

Moreover, she added in fact, PVAO-Baguio Field Office has been staying on a portion of the USAFIP-NL property in the same area for many years now since 1998 but has not paid rent of P5,000 monthly since their last Lease of Contract expired May 31, 2013.

The USAFIP-NL Baguio-Benguet Chapter prepared a new contract for the renewal but PVAO refused to sign.

On January 17, 2014 the two organizations, along with some PMA officers had a meeting to discuss the unpaid rents of PVAO.

It was then decided PVAO will still pay for their arrears from June to December of 2013, even by installment basis.

Pomar said they no longer renewed PVAO's lease of contract because there was already a plan for them to take over the place and have the control over it.

The USAFIP-NL Inc., Baguio-Benguet Chapter in a resolution does not recognize the leadership of Banez and Abat thus they do not have the authority to command and asked the PVAO to intervene in the administration of the USAFIP-NL Headquarters Veterans Compound.

The USAFIP-NL Inc. Baguio-Benguet Chapter meanwhile continues to coordinate with the LGUs and non-government organizations to help them in addressing the issues concerning the welfare, benefits and protection of the veteran's properties.

Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on July 10, 2014.

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