The city government and residents should have a unified stand on the need to protect Busol watershed from incursions and preserve it as one of the few remaining pine stands and primary source of potable water of the city.
Mayor Benjamin Magalong said fighting for its preservation would be vote for the next generation facing a future bereft of greenery and potable water due to the perennial threat of squatting.
He said it is high time to exert all efforts to protect the watershed which has only about 40 percent unoccupied spaces.
“Kung maubos pa ito paano na tayo? Kaya protektahan natin at dapat unified ang efforts at iisa ang boses natin. Protect Busol,” he urged.
The mayor said the city is bent on pursuing the demolition of the illegal structures in the Baguio side of the forest reserve.
He said coordination is continuing with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources for the identification of illegal structures that need to be demolished.
“Squatting in watersheds has to stop once and for all, it has to stop,” he said.
He said this is highlighted by the fact that the city is experiencing an unprecedented water shortage.
“First time natin naranasang matuyuan ang ating water sources at water harvesting facilities. First time natin maranasan ang napakahinang pressure sa mga sources at sa ating faucets. Matindi rin ang naging rationing. It’s about time to protect our watershed dahil tubig ang buhay natin,” he said.
“We have to act. We cannot just allow just a few to benefit at the expense of the majority,” he said, adding even economic industries highly depend on water supply in their operation.
“Industries, including our tourism industry which is our main source of income, won’t be able to stand if we have no water. What will happen to our economy if this is the situation,” he said.
The mayor said they are now waiting for the decision of the court on the stalled demolition operations last March.
The demolition was implemented after occupants violated conditions of their agreement with the city government that they will 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. – Aileen P. Refuerzo