February 1, 2023

The Baguio Water District (BWD) said it could not grant the request of some residents of Pinget barangay for water service connection as their structures are situated within the Buyog Watershed Forest Reserve.
Earlier, Pinget Punong Barangay Pablo Pawi wrote to the city council to ask for help with their appeal for a water service connection and provided a list of 25 residents not serviced by the BWD. 
In a forum with the city council on Nov. 21, Atty. Chanell Dolor de Guzman, BWD senior corporate counsel, stressed Proclamation 93, s. 1992, which established the Buyog watershed withdrew the entire area from entry sale, disposition, or settlement.
“In as much as we understand the predicament of the petitioners considering that, indeed, water is a basic human right, the BWD’s hands are tied by restrictions due to the fact that we have to protect the water sources therein,” de Guzman said.
The councilors said aside from Proclamation 93, s. 1992, Section F of Ordinance 67-2009 categorically prohibits the installation of electric and water supply to structures that are “within government reservations, school areas, national and forest reservations, duly identified watershed areas, road rights-of-way, and on dangerous areas as identified by the proper government agency.”
De Guzman said a certificate of ancestral land claim issued by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources is not recognized as a basis for approving an application for a water service application since the ordinance does not explicitly say so.
She said the BWD had not granted any application for structures situated within forest and watershed reservations since the passage of the ordinance. She added no exemption is given to any applicant residing within a reservation so as not to create any precedent. 
Based on a DENR-Cordillera survey as relayed by de Guzman, of the 20 hectares delineated for the Buyog watershed, 12 hectares has already been occupied by settlers while the remaining 7.92 hectares is still forested. 
The city council referred the matter to the committee on public utilities, transportation, and traffic legislation for possible legislative action. – Jordan G. Habbiling