March 1, 2024

The city council is eyeing a three-month moratorium on the implementation of demolition in public lands to allow time for the conduct of a study on how the city government should deal with informal settlers.

This came following the discussion on the plight of a resident from Camp Allen who asked the council about the best move her family could make to stop the implementation of a demolition order that is supposed to be implemented on Feb. 15 and 16.

Councilor Arthur Allad-iw moved for the adoption of a resolution to ask the mayor’s office for a three-month moratorium on demolition in public lands, except those already issued with titles, including portions of military reservations that are no longer used for the purpose they were originally intended for.

Vice Mayor Faustino Olowan said there was a need for the city to study the options to be done on informal settlers who have long been occupying public lands and those occupying built-up military reservations.

Jennifer Narnola who sought an audience with the city council on behalf of her parents and other residents with the same plight as her family, clarified with the members about Resolution 574 s. 2023.

The resolution aims to slow down the process of enactment of demolition orders and adopted the recommendation of the committee on laws that called for the possibility of declaring portions of military reservations that are not being used for their original intention to be identified as possible sites for the implementation of the national government’s Pabahay Para sa Pilipino Program.

Narnola said they received a copy of the demolition order after only two hearings with the City Buildings and Architecture Office, instead of three.

She added the report of the CBAO that they were having a new construction was not accurate because they merely implemented repairs on their roof which was leaking.

She said it was also not true that they promised to voluntarily demolish their structure as reported.

Councilor Peter Fianza clarified the recommendation of the committee on laws, which was adopted in Resolution 574 s. 2023, was for the possibility of declaring only the portions of military reservations, not all areas of the reservation, for possible housing sites.

He reiterated only those areas that are no longer used for their original intention should be requested as a site for the Pabahay program of the government.

In Baguio, the military reservations that have since been occupied as residential areas are Camp Allen and Navy Base.

Members of the city council agreed with the three-month moratorium on demolition of structures on public lands, except those that were issued titles, and for the city to study the various issues and policies on how the government should deal with those whose structures were demolished.

Councilor Jose Molintas added it was better to also invite representatives of the Philippine Military Academy, which oversees the military reservations in the city and inquire from them their plans for informal settlers after the demolition.

This is in light of the government’s no relocation, no demolition policy.

“We also want to know if the city legal and the anti-squatting committees have a specific approach regarding informal settlers in a military reservation. We want to know their policy regarding relocation,” Molintas said, adding demolitions should be suspended, especially for old structures.

Councilor Benny Bomogao suggested that for old structures, it would be better if the court would be the one to issue a demolition order.

“It would be an injustice for those who have been occupying their homes for decades already to just be summarily evicted,” he said.

Olowan said the problem with going to the courts is the financial requirements, which most of those issued with demolition orders could barely afford.

“This is why it is better to ask for a moratorium and task the appropriate committee to study the issues and for the implementing agency to rethink their position,” he said.

He added the city council is frequented by residents asking the members’ help regarding their concerns on demolition orders.

Councilor Fred Bagbagen said he agrees with a three-month moratorium on demolition of structures on public lands, but reiterated this should not apply if the area is issued with titles. – Jane B. Cadalig