June 4, 2023

Members of the Baguio City Council, during the regular session last March 27, called on the City Planning and Development Office (CPDO) to relax the process and requirements in subdividing titled residential lots.
The councilors stressed that the cumbersome process and excessive requirements place too much burden on applicants who simply want to partition their lots for residential purposes. 
Councilor Jose Molintas said the applicants are required by the CPDO to submit a development plan for the issuance of a development permit with total fees amounting to P1,500. All these requirements and fees when the applicants only intend to subdivide the lot into two, he said. 
Councilor Benny Bomogao said all the cumbersome procedures are in contravention with the Ease of Doing Business Act.
The councilors claimed the onerous process undertaken by the CPDO in subdividing residential lots can be traced to the office’s misinterpretation of Ordinance 63 s. 2016.
Asked about the legal basis for all these requirements, Elias Aoanan, CPDO representative, cited Section 22 of the ordinance which states that “…all owners and/or developers of subdivision projects shall, in addition to securing a locational clearance, be required to secure a development permit…”
The councilors said the CPDO should know the difference between “subdividing a simple residential lot” and “subdividing a lot for commercial purposes.” While the latter requires the issuance of a locational clearance and a development permit as prescribed in the ordinance, the former does not require such as it has no legal basis. 
Councilor Isabelo Cosalan Jr. said the concerned offices should fully understand the law in order to implement it based on its actual intent.  
Aoanan said they had already waived some of the requirements such as the submission of a topographic map. 
Meanwhile, representatives of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources said they only require the updated copy of the title, a geodetic engineer waiver, and a verification fee of not more than P25 for the approval of the subdivision of a titled lot into two which is not intended for commercial and selling purposes.
During the session, it was also made clear that the power to approve subdivision plans for residential, commercial, or industrial purposes and other development purposes is granted to the city council.
Under Section 447 of the Local Government Code, the Sangguniang Panlungsod shall “process and approve subdivision plans for residential, commercial, or industrial purposes and other development purposes.”
Also, Executive Order 71 states the local government unit shall approve the “subdivision schemes and development plans of all subdivisions, residential commercial, industrial and for other purposes of the public and private sectors” in accordance with the provisions of Presidential Decree 957, as amended.
This is one of the powers of the Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board devolved to the local government unit by virtue of EO 71.
Cosalan questioned the approval of the DENR for subdivision surveys/plans when the application did not pass through the preliminary approval of the council and the CPDO.
The DENR representatives explained that they have Presidential Decree 957 and Batasang Pambansa 220 as their legal bases in approving subdivision surveys/plans.
Cosalan said all these procedures in approving subdivision plans/surveys and simple subdivision undertaken both by the DENR and the city government should be “harmonized.”
The city council, through a resolution, urged the CPDO to convene the city’s subdivision monitoring team to create a flowchart detailing the procedures in approving subdivision plans. The flowchart should indicate that simple subdivision of residential lots should not pass through the process as required by Ordinance 63, s. 2016. – Jordan G. Habbiling