DEVELOPER SHOULD SEEK TO COEXIST W/ COMMUNITY
With the Alphaland Baguio Mountain Lodges, Inc., an upscale property in Itogon, Benguet, in the hot seat for violating its environmental compliance certificate, the highland resort that caters to some of the country’s elite and well-heeled crowd must make good with its commitments to address the issues on its development site.
The Environmental Management Bureau-CAR, in a Jan. 3 notice, stated Alphaland has committed 11 violations as regards to its ECC, which stemmed from the complaint of a concerned lowly resident, whose property adjacent to the highland resort is being dumped with soil from the company’s construction activities.
This was confirmed by the EMB-CAR during its inspection at the site, where it also found felled trees due to the construction, but the company failed to present any tree-cutting permit.
During the technical conference on Jan. 20, the EMB-CAR, Alphaland and the affected residents discussed the company’s violations and other related issues to the development project.
The EMB-CAR said usually, the conduct of a technical conference is between the agency and the proponent being investigated, but it made an exemption in order to accommodate the complainant and other affected residents of the community around the project site.
Alphaland then signed nine commitments that will address its supposed violations, including the conduct of mitigating measures to prevent soil erosion at the project site, conduct information and education campaigns with the affected residents especially with its expansion, and amendment of its ECC to include its present expansion site, among others.
The EMB-CAR also stated there are issues on land disputes between Alphaland’s property and its neighboring community, with the company being advised to settle the matter with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.
With these developments, Alphaland should stay true to its commitments not only to satisfy EMB-CAR as regards to the provisions of its ECC and processing of permits, but more so to address the concerns raised by its neighbors.
Alphaland may have built 300 lodge-style log homes within its 82-hectare property in Itogon, but it should remember the residents around have stayed longer than the log cabins in that small and quiet village.
And as a good and privileged neighbor, it is its responsibility to make sure that any development plans it implements will not cause inconvenience to everyone around its property.
The company should also revisit its earlier promise on supporting projects and activities to be requested by the residents.
While it is commendable that EMB-CAR issued a notice of violation to Alphaland after evaluating the complaint against the company, the agency should be more proactive the next time in regularly monitoring these various development projects as regard to its ECCs, so as not to depend on complaints prior to making an action.
The EMB-CAR, together with the municipality of Itogon, should continue to be vigilant and to monitor the development project to make the company responsible and accountable to the violations made.
More importantly, Alphaland should strive to settle the various issues, particularly on land disputes with the community. It must also seek to build a harmonious relationship with its neighboring community, just like a good neighbor would.