December 8, 2023

Despite opposition from the community, a learning center catering to people with special needs has started operating at the former John Hay Elementary School at Scout Barrio.

Punong Barangay Manolo Llaneta told the Midland Courier that St. John Paul II Learning Center has been given the green light by the Bases Conversion and Development Authority-John Hay Management Corporation after submitting requirements to be able to operate as a school.

The Midland Courier tried to obtain the terms of lease for the use of JHES but the learning center’s officials declined, citing confidentiality of their agreement with the BCDA-JHMC. Officials of the BCDA-JHMC, on the other hand, were not available for comment. 

The institution has started repainting and repairing the building preparatory to start of classes on Nov. 8.

Llaneta said the learning center, which submitted its application to the BCDA-JHMC in 2020, has committed to engage with the community for its projects that will also aid the learners, such as maintaining the community garden located at the back of the school. 

Last Oct. 28, a group of residents protested in front of the school, reiterating the school is supposed to be managed by the community as the barangay has already been segregated from Camp John Hay.

Officials of the BCDA-JHMC will soon be invited again in one of the sessions of the city council following the appeal of the Scout Barrio Neighborhood Association.

The JHES was closed in January 2020, following failure by the school to submit an occupancy permit, which was then being asked by the Department of Education.

Because the community residents who were then running the JHES could not secure the permit from the BCDA, they asked for the voluntary closure of the school, an action that was endorsed by the City Schools Division of the Department of Education.

In one of the sessions of the city council, Councilor Peter Fianza said with what happened, BCDA took advantage of the inability of JHES to produce the occupancy permit DepEd was asking from JHES.

Fianza said if BCDA can make its way to claim institutional areas like school in Scout Barrio, then it can also claim the other open spaces and do the same in the other barangays that are yet to be segregated from the Camp John Hay reservation.

He added that under the agreement on the implementation of the executive order that segregated Scout Barrio as a socialized housing site, the BCDA is supposed to turn over open spaces and areas where schools, church, barangay halls, and roads to the national government and in the case of Baguio, to the city government. – Rimaliza A. Opiña