Puguis forests becoming squatters’ haven | SunStar

Puguis forests becoming squatters’ haven

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Puguis forests becoming squatters’ haven

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

ILLEGAL settlers are expanding at the Puguis Communal Forests.

La Trinidad Councilor Nestor Fongwan Jr. said in the latest walk through, he noticed the expansion of structures by illegal settlers in the area.

Fongwan also noted the dismantling of government signage in the area and said political will solve the problem in the government-owned property.

The lawmaker added the settlers have continued to defy rulings and orders, fencing the area and posing a problem of security even to officials and authorities.

“Ayaw pa kami papasukin [during the walk through],” an irked Fongwan said.

An anti-squatting task force headed by Municipal Administrator Miller Quintin is set to meet next week to discuss plans on how to rid the area of illegal settlers.

Cases are ongoing with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources – Cordillera, Provincial Government of Benguet and the Local Government of La Trinidad alleging violations of the Forestry Code against Pedro Isican, Robert Dela Cruz, Norman Hogan, Aboli Ginsa-at and Jun Balbuena.

A joint survey of the local government and the DENR of the entire forest to determine the contested 48 hectare property of the valley is still ongoing.

The area is in the midst of a land mess with areas having land titles and tax declarations.

Settlers have come in and built structures and recently took down fences constructed by the environment department.

Published in the SunStar Baguio newspaper on June 15, 2017.

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