March 22, 2023

The city council has postponed further deliberation on the proposed resolution supporting the recommendation of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources to reduce the area of lots applied for titling through townsite or miscellaneous sales application (TSA/MSA).
Councilor Isabelo Cosalan Jr., former chair of the committee on urban planning, lands and housing, said the proposed resolution penned by Councilor Fred Bagbagen entails amendment of the Public Land Act and Presidential Decree 2004 s. 1985.
Bagbagen is the current chair of the committee on urban planning.
Both laws contain the guidelines by which public lands may be disposed. For TSA, the minimum area for disposal should not be less than 200 square meters (m2) but not more than 1,000m2, while for MSA, the maximum area is 1,000m2.
In Bagbagen’s proposal, the minimum area that may be disposed under MSA is 300m2. He said the reduction is to give more people a chance to own a property.
Cosalan said reducing the area will increase density, which urban planners are trying to avoid to slow down or prevent urbanization.
He said even the Senate, which is currently hearing at the committee level the proposed amendment to Baguio’s charter, supports the regulation in the disposal of alienable public lands.
He added the Bureau of Lands is also amenable that alienable and disposal lands should not be subdivided.
He said the City Planning and Development Office have to be consulted on the matter.
Bagbagen said even with the prohibition on subdivision, property owners resort to dividing the property by themselves. He said the recommendation of the DENR is a better option.
“Ang nangyayari ngayon, sila-sila nalang nagdi-divide, which is also a violation of spatial regulations,” Bagbagen said.
Bagbagen said the proposal is in consonance to the constitutional provision that the State shall undertake a continuing program of land reform and housing which shall be made available to underprivileged citizens at a decent cost.
Councilor Benny Bomogao said the city council might be violating laws governing the disposal of public lands if it approves the resolution filed by Bagbagen.
Representatives of the CPDO and the DENR will be invited to the council’s succeeding sessions to clarify issues regarding the proposed resolution. – Rimaliza A. Opiña