October 7, 2022

The Baguio Schools Division of the Department of Education is hoping more developments will be done in schools built on lots not yet under the name of the agency.

Except for Happy Hallow Elementary School, the DepEd has completed signing of usufruct agreements for five schools that stood on lots that were either lent and were due for reclamation by the registered owner, or had private claimants.

Schools that previously had issues on lot ownership are Country Club Village ES, Baguio City High School-Hillside annex, both located within the Camp John Hay reservation; Happy Hallow NHS, which was beset with an ancestral land claim; and Fort del Pilar ES and HS, both within the Philippine Military Academy reservation.

City Schools Division Superintendent Federico Martin said the latest usufruct agreement he signed was with the owner of the lot where Happy Hallow NHS stands. The agreement gave the DepEd perpetual and unencumbered use of the property.

For Fort del Pilar, Martin said the PMA has donated one hectare within the reservation as a relocation site of the school and the DepEd is only awaiting the signature of the PMA superintendent to make the donation official.

The usufruct agreement for the BCNHS-Hillside annex on the other hand, does not spell out the limit of when the lot will be reclaimed.

Martin said usufruct agreements will give the DepEd and the school administration autonomy on how to manage the area, without the need to get the approval of the owner.

“The school can also have exclusive use of the facilities and they can even fence it for security purposes”, Martin said.

In the case of Fort del Pilar, he said the school will finally have a permanent location. He said Rep. Mark Go assured that in the event a deed of donation or usufruct agreement is signed, he will work on the allocation of funds for the construction of a new school building.

In the past, DepEd and the school administration had to deal with a stream of notices from the PMA asking them to vacate because of the impending development of the area where the school stands.

For every notice, the DepEd, the school administration, with assistance from the local government, and groups of parents would appeal to the PMA to reconsider. 

Martin recalled policies would often change, depending on who is appointed as PMA superintendent. When the deal is finalized, the school will finally have a permanent location, he said.

Department Order 57 s. 1995 contain the guidelines on the acquisition of school sites. These are through donation of lot, contract of usufruct, purchase of the lot by the host local government then turn it over to the DepEd, and land swapping. – Rimaliza A. Opiña