Mayor upholds CDO vs controversial housing project

LA TRINIDAD Mayor Romeo Salda has upheld the cease and desist order (CDO) against the 91,101-square-meter subdivision project in Kesbeng in Barangay Poblacion in La Trinidad, Benguet.

Salda denied the motion for reconsideration filed by developer CDJ Group, through its counsel Richard Kilaan. The developer sought to have the CDO lifted so it could continue land development at the site.

Salda said the CDO remains subject to the implementation of mitigating measures to be installed by the CDJ Group or the Monteverdes and landowners who must comply with the recommendations of the Mines Geosciences Bureau (MGB), Environmental Management Bureau (EMB), the Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (MDRRMC), and the local government.

“The denial of the lifting of CDO No. 1 s.2018 is in order because we believe that human lives are at stake if development and further excavation will continue,” added the 14-page resolution.

Following the technical working groups recommendation, Salda added the excavated soil towards Kesbeng and Buyagan must be hauled out immediately while the developer and landowners were asked to implement mitigating measures to prevent occurrence of landslide.

Last year, an ocular inspection was by CDJ Group, EMB, MGB, LGU of La Trinidad, residents and MDRRMC to validate the findings of Engineer Emerson Tabernero and the claim of residents in a public hearing.

Together with the La Trinidad LGU Team, EMB, MGB reported the presence of excavated earth dumped on sides of the slopes, landslides, and scouring.

Following the inspection, EMB observed “visible development on site were the installation of access roads, drainage canals, rip-rap walls and residential building structures. A portion of a perimeter wall about 10 meters in length and three meters in width collapsed during the time of typhoon Ompong. This was triggered by accumulated run-off water caused by a clogged drainage.”

It also manifested the installed gabion walls by Cordillera Homes Saint Francis Community Association Inc (CH-SFCAI) are starting to corrode. The gabion was full of soil materials causing it to flow to Balili River.

In addition, MGB established “that the area as a whole is affected by blanket flow of surface run-off that generally flow southeastward towards a gully/creek. Insufficient storm drainage system was noted within the property resulting to scouring. Excavated earth were seen precariously sitting on slope. These earth materials resulted to the siltation of the natural waterways in the area.”

MGB-CAR’s findings added the occurrence of forms of geologic hazards most particularly landslides, scouring, creek bank erosion, siltation and other forms of instabilities could affect the housing project. To mitigate these, a more detailed geohazards assessment must be conducted within the project site prior to its development for commercial use.

MDRRM chair Yoshio Labi recommended development should consider the safety of everyone including nearby communities and for the stoppage of degrading works including excavations and earth moving activities.

Several manifestations were also made opposing the move to lift the CDO.

Gretchen Ablaza, secretary of Cordillera Homes Saint-Francis Community Association incorporated through its resolution appealed to Salda not to lift the CDO until the completion of mitigating measures be conducted by the CDJ group.

Poblacion’s barangay council also backs the issuance of the CDO through a resolution.

CDJ in a letter, informed the municipality they have taken over the operation, management and development of the project of CH-SFCAI.

CH-SFCAI is a subdivision development under the Group Land Acquisition and Development (GLAD) funding program of Pag-Ibig. The development of the subdivision was approved in 2015 through a resolution by the municipal council.


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