February 23, 2024

A total of 489 illegal structures found in safeguarded lots, military reservations, and private lots were demolished by the city government in 2023.

Thirty-one cases were also filed in court with two convictions, three settled through voluntary demolition, and 23 pending.

The City Buildings and Architecture Office under Arch. Johnny Degay said the downed structures were covered by 19 demolition orders issued by Mayor Benjamin Magalong.  

Of the 19 implemented orders, 17 covered structures situated in safeguarded lots like watersheds, forest reservations, and road rights-of-way while two involved structures in military reservation and a private lot.  

The mayor issued 62 demolition orders, but 43 of which were laid on the table after affected parties sought redress. Seventeen of the deferred ordered covered buildings in safeguarded lots, 17 in private lots, five involved military reservations, and four others in untitled lots.

Engr. Donald Gas-ib, CBAO Investigation and Demolition Division head, said the office received 384 complaints last year, all of which were inspected and investigated. Structures covered by the complaints were situated in untitled lots and safeguarded locations.

The CBAO endorsed 252 cases either to the Anti-Squatting and Anti-illegal Structures Committee and the City Anti-Illegal Structures Committee; and 132 cases either to the Department of Public Works and Highways, the City Engineering Office, or barangays.

Magalong lauded the CBAO, CEO, City Environment and Parks Management Office, and the Baguio City Police Office for their joint efforts in monitoring, reporting, and facilitating the demolition of illegal structures and constructions.

He said the city’s anti-squatting campaign has been scoring big gains since its revitalization in 2022 but more needs to be done.

“We need to pursue this with aggressiveness if we really want to save our remaining watersheds, forest covers, water sources, and disposable lots,” the mayor said.

Last August, the CBAO noted the apparent decline in the number of new unpermitted structures being reported and attributed this to the effectiveness of more aggressive monitoring and reporting.

As per procedures, owners of illegal structures found in titled lots without ownership issues were ordered to stop construction and secure building permits. Those with conflicts were issued cease and desist orders with the advice to resolve the lot issues.

Constructions on untitled or unregistered lots were issued notices of violation and subjected to investigation.

Structures found in safeguarded lots were immediately endorsed for summary demolition.  – Aileen P. Refuerzo