March 2, 2024

The city council has suggested for the city government of Baguio to make moves to inform the national government about its interest over Camp Allen.

The suggestion was brought up after the Sons and Daughters of the United States Army Forces in the Philippines-Northern Luzon (USAFIP-NL) informed the council that the Philippine Military Academy has notified them to vacate their building at Camp Allen in its bid to clear military reservations of unauthorized occupants.

The notice to vacate lapsed in October and a civil suit will soon be filed for the courts to resolve if the survivors of World War II veterans are still entitled to stay at the area, Philippine Military Academy head for real estate Lt/Col. Julesther Cañada said.

PMA is the administrator of military reservations in Baguio, which, aside from the PMA and Camp Allen, include Navy Base in Barangay St. Joseph.

Reacting over news reports about plans of the Department of the National Defense to continue selling or leasing military reservations to finance the modernization of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, Councilor Jose Molintas asked Cañada to reveal the exact plans of the national government over military reservations.

“Is Camp Allen and other reservations for sale?” Molintas inquired adding that because the government does not have enough funds to finance the armed forces modernization, talks are rife that an option would be for these reservations to be developed.

Cañada said he cannot categorically state the DND’s plans but said the government wants to maximize the use of military properties that is why they are pursuing recovery of properties that have been occupied “by tolerance.”

Molintas said the PMA should reveal its plans about the Camp Allen and if needed, the city government can petition the national government to segregate it in favor of the local government of Baguio.

“Why the rush (for USAFIP-NL) to vacate? What are the plans of PMA there?” Molintas asked.

Cañada said it is not possible to segregate Camp Allen, but the city council is not giving up on protecting the presence of survivors of World War II veterans and approved the motions asking the PMA to observe status quo pending plans of declaring the USAFIP-NL building a heritage site to protect it from demolition and asking the City Buildings and Architecture Office to permit the Sons and Daughters of USAFIP-NL Baguio Benguet Chapter to repair some portions of the building for safety purposes.

The PMA has built a building for WWII veterans at another site within Camp Allen but the survivors of the veterans and the city council said the current building holds historical significance.

Vice Mayor Faustino Olowan said instead of the demolishing the building, PMA should retain the building as reward to the veterans who fought for the country in WWII. – Rimaliza A. Opiña