June 24, 2024

There is no truth to reports that circulated in the mainstream and social media that one of the country’s largest real estate developers is planning to develop a 100-hectare property in Sagada, Mountain Province.

In a statement issued Dec. 23, Ayala Land, Inc. (ALI) said it does not have plans of acquiring or developing any property in Sagada.

ALI issued the statement after unverified stories circulated that residents and officials of Sagada are protesting the company’s plan of purchasing a property in the town reportedly to be developed into a tourist destination.

Residents signed a petition opposing the plan, while the municipal council passed a resolution calling on Mayor James Pooten to order the municipal assessor to refrain from processing of survey and the transfer and revision of tax declarations.

The petition states that oligarchs and showbiz personalities have expressed interest to buy, lease, or “control” their land.

The petition however, was not clear about ALI’s participation in the acquisition of a property in the town.

The petition states that the residents will not surrender their land, their forests, their mountains, and watersheds to outsiders.

In an interview last week over “TV Patrol Northern Luzon,” Sagada Mayor James Pooten said a supposed agent of ALI has visited him and the Municipal Assessor’s Office and revealed the company’s supposed plan to acquire and develop a 100-hectare property at Batalaw (where the Kiltepan view deck is located).

Sagada only has a total land area of 83.32 square kilometers, which is just relatively larger than Baguio City.

The view deck, known for its views of limestones, pine trees, and cloud formations became famous nationwide after it was featured in a local movie. The area has since been become a favorite spot for location shoots and was also visited by celebrities.

In a statement issued on Dec. 27, Pooten said officials and the residents reacted to an account of someone who represented himself as someone from ALI.

“It is unfortunate that certain individuals purporting to represent Ayala Land Inc. led us to believe that they were transacting with landowners to develop a property in Sagada,” he said.

However, Pooten reiterated that the people of Sagada will fight for their heritage and their ancestral land.

“Sagada belongs to the world and to all who appreciate what is beautiful. We are just stewards of God’s creation and everybody is welcome to enjoy the place but care for it while you are here like it is your own. And when you leave, remember that you are leaving this beautiful place to your children and to the generations behind,” Pooten said in a statement. – Rimaliza A. Opiña