June 21, 2024
ILLEGAL STRUCTURES — Two residential structures built at the East Bayan Park side of the Busol watershed reservation were demolished on March 1, just as Mayor Benjamin Magalong ordered the city police to monitor round-the-clock the Busol and Buyog watersheds. — Contributed photo

Mayor Benjamin B. Magalong ordered the Baguio City Police Office to conduct round-the-clock patrol over Busol and Buyog watersheds to ensure no new structure will be built within what was left of the forest reservations, two of the few remaining sources of potable water in the city.
The mayor issued the order amid the demolition activities at the Busol watershed where two concrete structures in the process of being built at East Bayan Park part of the reservation were dismantled by a joint team led by the City Buildings and Architecture Office on Feb. 28 and March 1.
The structures were previously covered by a temporary restraining order issued by the court preventing the city government from carrying out demolition activities which became possible after the owners’ bid to obtain a court injunction did not materialize.
The CBAO said demolition operations on structures within the reservations that violate the agreement earlier reached by the occupants and the city government are continuing.
Last year, the CBAO demolished three existing small structures and had begun the demolition of close to 10 huge constructions in Liteng side of the Busol watershed when a temporary restraining order was issued.
“Any new structure being built especially in protected areas should be immediately demolished,” the mayor who earlier issued an executive order to this effect, said.
He was especially concerned about the Buyog watershed of which forested area had decreased from 19 hectares to only seven hectares.
In 2019, Magalong led series of dialogues with the watershed occupants informing them of the city’s demolition of illegal structures even before Covid-19 the pandemic.
“We need to put an end to this decades long problem, we shall continue to take action and remove illegal settlers within our watersheds for the benefit of the people,” the mayor said.
In 2021, the city government had an agreement with around 150 occupants and heads of the four barangays straddling the Busol reservation for them to cooperate with the city by refraining from introducing improvements or expansion of their existing structures, helping guard against further intrusions and undertaking preservation measures for the watershed.
However, the mayor said a recent inspection of the site showed violation of the agreement as there were expansions and new structures have been built.
The mayor said that while the city gives consideration to the occupants – many of whom are ancestral land claimants, law and order must be respected. – Jessa Mardy P. Samidan