May 23, 2024

Residents of Scout Barrio barangay are protesting anew against the Bases Conversion and Development Authority and its subsidiary John Hay Management Corporation for controlling the facilities and certain areas in the barangay, which they claim are supposed to be in open, continuous, exclusive, and notorious possession of the community.
In a petition, the residents also asked the city council to review and update Resolution 362, s. 1994, which spells out the 19 conditions of the local government in consenting to the privatization and crafting of a master development plan for the John Hay reservation, among which is to exclude the 13 adjoining barangays from the reservation, but which has not been fulfilled to date.
The residents appeared before the council in two of its sessions last month to seek help from the city government, after JHMC’s security provider in two incidents last May reportedly padlocked the John Hay Elementary School in the barangay, that time temporarily being used as an office by the Scout Barrio Multipurpose Cooperative after it closed in 2020, and posted a sign that said the school is a BCDA property and unauthorized entry will not be allowed.
Scout Barrio Punong Barangay Manolo Llaneta said they objected the move and invoked to JHMC President Allan Garcia an undertaking with a deed of restriction between BCDA, JHMC, and Scout Barrio barangay that provides the barangay should manage its properties and it should have the right to use it for the current and future needs of its community.
Prior to the incident, Llaneta said he and members of the barangay council had met with Garcia in April and claimed the JHMC official insisted that the school is their property and the undertaking is not applicable with them.
Rusela Bacungan, one of the petition’s signatories, said during one of the confrontations in May they also reminded Garcia about their agreement in January 2020 that the school will be turned over to the Department of Education in order that a deed of usufruct for the use of land can be drawn by BCDA.
Bacungan said Garcia denied the agreements and maintained the school was BCDA property and that the occupants must vacate the premises. The school was padlocked last May 27 and has an assigned security guard.
Scout Barrio was declared as a housing site in 2001 by virtue of Executive Order 64 that provided for its disposition to bona fide residents. So far, it is the only barangay that has been excluded from the reservation.
Of its area of 15.9 hectares, eight hectares was considered housing site and the 7.9-hectare unsegregated portion shall remain as open spaces, forest areas, recreation area, road ways, and water ways to provide for the current and future needs of the community or for the common use and benefit of the scout home owners at no cost to BCDA-JHMC.
“The 7.9-hectare area includes most of our facilities. All of which are in open, continuous, exclusive and notorious possession of the community before the birth of BCDA or even the creation of barangays in 1974 for that matter. These were developed and maintained through self-help, community efforts, and volunteerism with funds, resources and donations,” Bacungan said.
She added it is JHMC’s mandate to operate and manage the facilities within the John Hay Special Economic Zone and segregate the 13 adjoining barangays.
They said the school should be turned over to the public school system as earlier intended, BCDA should complete the barangay segregation, and that the 19 conditions should be strictly complied.
Garcia was not able to attend the council sessions last month to answer the issues due to prior engagements and being on quarantine.
BCDA representatives present virtually during the June 14 session said the management is in the process of coming up with a master development plan which has to be approved by Congress and they will relay the issues raised to the management to be able to give a fitting response.
Councilor Fred Bagbagen said Scout Barrio’s problem is not only its problem but also of the 13 concerned barangays and the entire city.
“It is our perception that the resolution is being ignored by BCDA. It has been 25 years and still you have not come up with that mandate, and that is the root of all these problems because the city is the host, and you are guests, and it seems you are having a republic of your own that you do not respect the city,” Bagbagen told the BCDA representatives.
He said the 19 conditions not being implemented could be a reason for the city to file a legal action and to annul the John Hay master development plan.
Atty. Ronald Cajucom of the BCDA said they and JHMC are complying with the 19 conditions but only as far as BCDA is consistent with its mandates under Bases Conversion and Development Act of 1992.
Councilor Michael Lawana said the Scout Barrio issue is the same with the 13 barangays, but the problem started with the change in administration.
He said before Garcia assumed, options and plans for the segregation were already being discussed and about to be implemented but were interrupted due to the change in leadership.
The council resolved to discuss the issue with the executive department and until JHMC is able to come for a meeting. – Hanna C. Lacsamana