July 23, 2024

■  Hanna C. Lacsamana

President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. is being urged to cause the transfer of certain lots at Scout Barrio barangay to the City of Baguio.

A proposed resolution filed by the city council committees on urban planning, lands, and housing; and laws, human rights, and justice is urging Marcos to issue an executive order or proclamation for the transfer of the open spaces, institutional areas, and unallocated lots at Scout Barrio social housing site to the city, subject to the payment of the value of the unallocated lots as may be allowed to be disposed for private use and other conditions as may be appropriate.

The proposal also asked that City Mayor Benjamin Magalong be authorized to present the resolution and other supporting documents to the President. 

The proponents took note that in the operation of the former John Hay Air Station, many civilian employees were allowed to occupy and live in certain areas of the reservation, particularly at the Scout Barrio area that is now one of the city barangays.

The proponents said as early as 1955, these employees have been clamoring to have their occupied lots segregated from the reservation that was transferred to the Bases Conversion and Development Authority, created under Republic Act 9227.

The city government had adopted resolutions in support of this clamor and of the need to have Scout Barrio and the other barangays within the John Hay reservation excluded, among which is Resolution 362, s. 1994, which sets out the conditions in the formulation by the BCDA of the master development plan for John Hay.

The proponents cited other resolutions, Presidential proclamations, and jurisprudence that show the national government and the BCDA acknowledged the need for the city’s and other concerned local government units’ concurrence to the of creation special economic zones  (SEZs) in areas under BCDA management within these LGUs.

Among which are Resolution 349, s. 1996 of the city, which approves the provisions of Club John Hay Master Development Plan prepared for the BCDA by the Planning Resources and   Operations System as contained in its final order dated October 1995 which conforms with the 19 conditions;

Section 117 of the 1991 Local Government Code on the city’s conditions for its concurrence, duly acknowledged by then Pres. Fidel Ramos, who issued Proclamation 420, s. 1994 creating and designating a portion of the area covered by the former Camp John Hay as the John Hay SEZ pursuant to RA 9227; and

Supreme Court rulings that RA 9227 expressly required concurrence of the affected LGUs to the creation of SEZs, which is equivalent to vesting a legal standing on them, for it is in effect, recognition of the real interests that communities nearby or surrounding a particular base area have in its utilization.

The SC also noted Resolution 362-1994 in line with Proclamation 420 in the recent BCDA v. city government of Baguio case, where the High Court recognized the existence of an equitable sharing agreement between BCDA and the city from the gross income from the operations within the SEZ as provided for in Condition 9 of the resolution, and the commitment for the allocation of 25 percent of John Hay Poro Point Development Corp.’s rentals or 30 percent of its net income from the SEZ operations, among other provisions.

Then Pres. Gloria Arroyo also issued Executive Order 64 declaring the property of BCDA in Scout Barrio as housing site and providing for its disposition to bonafide occupants.

The proponents said the area referred in the EO is the entire barangay, which is a portion containing 15.9 hectares of the parcel of land covered by the transfer certificate of title in the name of BCDA.

“It will be noted that the exempted area covers open spaces consisting of forest areas, waterways, road lots, including Loakan Road, a basketball court, a children’s playground, police station and barangay hall, a school site, health center, and a chapel; including reserved unoccupied areas which may be disposed of for residential purposes, among others,” the proponents said.

They added as suggested under Presidential Decree 1216 dated Oct. 14, 1977, open spaces may be donated to the LGU, which is in accord with the declared State policy that its territorial and political subdivisions shall enjoy genuine and meaningful local autonomy to enable them to attain their fullest development as self-reliant communities and make them more effective partners in the attainment of national goals by providing them with a more responsive and accountable local government structure instituted through a system of decentralization as provided for in the LGC.

“It should be seen that the city government is in the best position to administer open spaces of the housing site and in coordination with appropriate agencies like the Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development to consider the use of the exempted unoccupied areas,” the proposal stated.

The proponent city council committees are composed of councilors Peter Fianza; Isabelo Cosalan, Jr.; Fred Bagbagen; Arthur Allad-iw; John Rey Mananeng; Maximo Edwin, Jr.; and Jose Molintas.