by Aileen P. Refuerzo / PIO
The city government of Baguio through the City Anti-Squatting Committee last Thursday agreed to reset the demolition of illegal structures at the Benguet-Ifugao-Bontoc-Apayao-Kalinga (Bibak) area to a later date but not beyond Jan. 31.
The decision was reached after the Presidential Commission on Urban Poor has relayed to Mayor Mauricio Domogan the possibility of obtaining a commitment from the affected parties to undertake voluntary demolition of their structures.
City Administrator Carlos Canilao said they intend on pursuing the demolition within the month to avoid further delay in the long overdue operation.
Domogan convened the committee headed by Canilao to discuss the possibility of postponing the operation in the light of the PCUP development and of the scheduled Ms. Universe event in the city.
The operation was earlier set from Jan. 17 to 18 with all the manpower and logistical requirements being readied.
The mayor said the city remains open to the prospect of obtaining the cooperation of the affected parties but it will still depend on how they plan to go about the demolition especially the time frame.
The PCUP promised to forward the commitment as soon as possible.
The committee also deemed it prudent to postpone the demolition as the visit of the Ms. Universe contestants will fall on Jan. 18.
Canilao said the event will require the city’s full attention in terms of the maintenance of peace and order which cannot be done if the Bibak demolition will still be pursued at the same time.
During the meeting, the committee signified readiness for the operation with the City Buildings and Architecture Office under Engr. Nazita Bañez to take the lead with the manpower and equipment needed.
The operation will be in collaboration with the Baguio City Police Office under S/Supt. Ramil Saculles who committed to field in 200 personnel to provide security and the regional offices of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples, which both pledged funding and logistical support, among others.
The mayor said after the demolition, the city will shift its focus on developing the property. A technical working group will be formed to work on fencing the property and drafting a master development plan in cooperation with the stakeholders.