May 23, 2024

An ordinance expropriating parts of private propertieswithin the Pines Park bridge project in Balili, La Trinidad, Benguet recently underwent public consultation at the town hall.

The proposed ordinance, now up for second reading, empowers the mayor on behalf of the municipality to exercise the power of eminent domain or pursue expropriation proceedings over the two parcels of land at Km. 4.

The affected lots are part of the road-right-of-way of the Pines Park bridge, particularly at the bridge approach going to the national highway.

These are registered under Judith Kios and Mayor Ruben Tindaan of Buguias, Benguet. 

Councilor Bartolome Baldas, Jr., who authored the ordinance, said the measure is one of the essential requisites for the expropriation of private properties for public use according to precedent cases ruled by the Supreme Court.

Expropriation is the government’s power to take private property for public use upon just compensation to the owner.

Also, the power of eminent domain is exercised for public use, there is payment of just compensation, and a valid and definite offer has been previously made to the owner of the property sought to be expropriated, but said offer was not accepted.

Baldas said the Department of Public Works and Highways Benguet First Engineering District informed the municipal council that the agency will not expropriate or acquire the RROW for certain types of projects.

Citing DPWH Department Order 229-2022, the agency is not responsible for the acquisition of RROW projects involving local infrastructure projects (LIP), those under sustainable infrastructure project alleviating gaps (Sipag), and projects done by the DPWH through convergence programs with different agencies.

The order stated that the right of way acquisition should be the responsibility of the respective LGU since “these remain to be the asset of the local government concerned, and turned over to them for maintenance and upkeep after completion.”

The P77 million worth Pines Park bridge project which replaces the old bridge from temporary into a permanent vehicular bridge is under the Sipag project.

The bridge was designed as a two-way lane with sidewalks on both sides, however, the lane would merge into one at the bridge approach at the Tindaan-Kios properties, going to the national highway to give “way to the wishes of the landowners.”  

“This is unsafe to motorists and pedestrians alike, one of the causes of heavy traffic and it will cause much inconvenience to the public. There is therefore an urgent need for the expropriation of a wider portion of the land of Kios-Tindaan,” Baldas said. 

He said the bridge is vital for the economic development of the municipality as it links Balili, Lubas, Tawang, Ambiong, and Beckel to the national road.

During the public consultation for the proposed ordinance, the camps of the Kios and Tindaan families were present along with the concerned residents and officials of the barangays making use of the bridge.

Baldas said once the ordinance is approved by the municipal council, it will then be forwarded to Mayor Romeo Salda for his action to start the negotiations for the acquisition or expropriation lot, which is about 200 square meters. 

“There is a verbal agreement with the Kios family through their lawyer stating their agreement for the expropriation, we thank them for their cooperation. We hope that this will be put in writing soon,” he said.

Ambiong Punong Barangay Frederick Tao-ing has appealed to the lot owners, citing the importance of the road in cutting travel time especially during emergencies.

Tao-ing cited the earlier emergency simulations conducted by their disaster risk reduction and management council where it took only nine minutes to reach the Benguet General Hospital from Ambiong via the Pines Park-Lubas Road.

This was also echoed by La Trinidad Municipal Police Station Chief, Maj. Leonard Danasen, who stated that widening the entrance and exit of Pines Park is crucial to cut the bottleneck traffic along the Km. 4 national road. – Ofelia C. Empian