June 20, 2024

Mayor Benjamin Magalong urged residents to continue reporting illegal structures and squatting activities to safeguard watersheds, forest and military reservations, and private lots from intrusions.

The mayor said squatting incidents continue to be monitored in safeguarded lots like watersheds despite the constant presence of city policemen who regularly conduct foot patrol activities in the areas.

“Despite our intensified efforts, there are still those who attempt to enter and build illegal structures in our watersheds which the communities are not reporting. It’s good that we are sustaining the police foot patrols and are able to catch them but we need the communities especially the occupants who had commitment with the city government to protect the remaining portions of the watershed to help guard these areas,” the mayor lamented.  

He said the revitalized anti-squatting campaign which gained momentum last year needs to be sustained through aggressive monitoring and reporting of cases and speedy deliberation and action based on due process.

“We need to pursue this with aggressiveness if we really want to save our remaining watersheds, forest covers, water sources and our remaining disposable lots,” the mayor as he warned those who dare to continue their illegal activities.

Last year, 489 illegal structures found in safeguarded, military reservation, and private lots were demolished with a total of 31 cases filed in court resulting to two convictions, three settled through voluntary demolition and 23 still pending.  

This was through the efforts of the City Buildings and Architecture Office, the City Engineering Office, City Environment and Parks Management Office and the Baguio City Police Office, the City Legal Office, the Anti-Squatting and Anti-illegal Structures Committee and the City Anti-Illegal Structures Committee.

As per procedures, owners of illegal structures found in titled lots without ownership issues were ordered to stop construction and secure building permits. Those with conflicts were issued cease and desist orders with the advice to resolve the lot issues.

Constructions on untitled or unregistered lots were issued notices of violation and subjected to investigations. Structures found in safeguarded lots were immediately endorsed for summary demolition. 

The BCPO under Director, Col. Francisco Bulwayan, Jr., continues to include watersheds in their daily patrols.  Camdas Police Station (PS) 2 is keeping watch over Buyog watershed at Pinget and West Quirino Hill; Aurora Hill PS 6 guards Busol watershed at Ambiong and Pacdal barangays; Pacdal PS 3 scours Busol watershed and Forbes Park forest reservation at South Drive barangay and other safeguarded areas; and Kennon Road PS 8 secures Camp 8 watershed.

The mayor said the campaign is in line with the city’s thrust for a cleaner, greener and environmentally sustainable Baguio City. – Aileen P. Refuerzo