December 6, 2023

Came across a news item that the City Buildings and Architecture Office reported there are more than 96,000 structures in Baguio without building permits in violation of the National Building Code.
This represents 80 percent of the 120,000 structures built. It also means only 20 percent or more than 24,000 structures were issued permits. Worse, even owners of titled properties were constructed san permits.
Time to legitimize the existence of the structures and the solution is at hand.
As a former legislator, I authored the law “Providing amnesty on building permit requirements for those in actual, physical and notorious possession of public lands in the concept of an owner and for other purposes.”
I humbly suggest that an executive or administrative order be issued to implement the same.
Because of the special nature of lands in Baguio, a majority of constituents have not been given the opportunity to have the lands they have constructed on, titled under the present Torrens System.
Though they have been in actual, physical and notorious possession of public lands in the concept of an owner defined in the Civil Code, the threat of being declared informal settlers remains.
As such, protestors, claimants, prospective buyers and speculators have time and again used a complaint for the NBC or building without permit as a weapon to dispossess, harass or even grab possession and ownership over lands in question.
The anomaly of the situation is when one applies through townsite sales or miscellaneous sales with the Department of the Environment and Natural Resources through its AO 504 Clearing Committee or for a Certificate of Ancestral Land Title or Certificate of Ancestral Land Claim with the National Commission of Indigenous Peoples, one of the requirements is the introduction of improvements on the property to show proof of possession and/or in support of their application. On the other hand, if one builds without permit, the NBC applies.
The ordinance would cure the anomalous situation and would even enhance the NBC.
Of course, it will not apply to those who built structures on titled properties, lands classified as mining, forest, timber and other lands not classified as alienable and disposable, road right of way and/or those identified for city needs, lands owned by the national government in its patrimonial character and other protected lands.
The building official can issue permits provided that an undertaking is submitted that he will “perfect” his claim, application and/or award into a “private right” or Torrens title issued by the Register of Deeds within 10 years from the issuance of the permit in his name, otherwise the same shall be automatically revoked and appropriate action shall be taken by the concerned city department.
With the undertaking, the CBAO now issues a building clearance and everybody lives happily thereafter.
As this is a parens patriae (the principle that political authority carries with it the responsibility for protection of citizens) measure, it would curtail the impact of a national law which is proving to be “injurious” to the rights of our people.
Extraordinary times, extraordinary measures.