THE City Government of Baguio is inclined to pursue the immediate demolition of the nearly 150 illegal structures within the 8-hectare land ceded by the agriculture department to the city.
Mayor Benjamin Magalong ordered City Social Welfare and Development Officer Betty Fangasan to take the lead in informing the informal settlers in the property acquired by the City Government through a deed of usufruct that they have to voluntarily leave the area or else the city will be constrained to demolish their structures.
Magalong informed social welfare officers the only thing assured by the city government is that qualified informal settlers will be hired by the companies that will implement the waste-to-energy project and the south-bound bus terminal in the area.
But they must first leave the city-owned property as they are not qualified to be provided with a relocation site as they do not fall under the qualifications of existing laws, rules and regulations.
Under the provisions of Republic Act (RA) 7279 or the Urban Development and Housing Act of 1992, Assistant City Legal Officer Melchor Carlos Rabanes stated that only those owners of structures built before March 28, 1992 will be entitled to relocation while those owners of structures built after the aforesaid date will no longer be entitled to relocation and that the illegal structures could be demolished once there will be no legal impediment on the said matter.
Based on the social preparation conducted by the City Social Welfare and Development Office, of the approximately 150 illegal structures that were erected within portions of the ceded property, some 35 structures were described as small structures and are not being actually occupied because the owners have houses in the different barangays in the city and that they only come to the place during their scheduled meetings.
Further, 21 of the informal settlers have tax declarations issued by the City Assessor’s Office but the same is not a conclusive proof of ownership as this is only for taxation purposes.
Of the over 8-hectare property, the city government plans to use some 4 hectares to accommodate the proposed construction of a south-bound bus terminal, 3 hectares will be used to accommodate the proposed waste-to-energy plant, while the remaining over 1 hectare is earmarked for multi-use.
Concerned local officials were tasked to meet with the identified informal settlers to inform them about the position of the city government prior to the issuance of the appropriate demolition orders once they will defy the appeal of the city for them to voluntarily dismantle their illegal structures to avoid conflicts that will arise on the said matter as the city needs the property for its upcoming development projects. (PR)