Issue of October 7, 2018
     
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Benguet
Mt. Province
 
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2018
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No funds yet for development of BIBAK compound – NCIP
by Rimaliza A. Opiña

There won’t be any major development at the Bibak compound as Congress has not allotted funds for its upgrade, the regional director of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples, revealed.

During the kick-off of Indigenous Peoples Month last Tuesday, NCIP-Cordillera Director Roland Calde said the technical working group has proposed to the Department of Public Works and Highways the construction of a six-story building at the site. The same proposal has also been endorsed by the Cordillera Regional Development Council.

“We (TWG) have been asking for it for three years now but it has not been acted upon,” Calde said. Because of limited budget, only minor repairs are being done at the former Cordillera Regional Assembly building.

The TWG is composed of the local government of Baguio, the NCIP, and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

The three agencies formed a TWG to harmonize guidelines in the development and use of the 5,000-square meter property, as well as set regulations in its management. 

The TWG proposed for the DPWH to allot P100 million for the building alone. Calde said budget for the improvement of the entire compound has not been incorporated, as this has to be discussed in future meetings of the TWG. 

“There are groups and government offices inquiring if they could lease the building but we have not allowed it yet because amenities in the building needs repair,” Calde added.

The proposal is for the building to house an IP museum, IP resource center, cultural center, and a training center.

Calde said TWG did not include a dormitory for students coming from the different provinces of the Cordillera because the NCIP now grants financial assistance to IPs who study in Baguio. He said the plan now is only to construct a few rooms to accommodate government personnel from the provinces who may be in Baguio for seminars, conventions, or trainings.

“Yung iba kasi tumutuloy sa mga kamag-anak o kaya bumabalik agad sa lugar nila dahil walang matirhan dito sa Baguio,” Calde said.

In the 1950s, two two-story dorms for boys and girls used to stand at the Bibak compound but illegal settlers soon took over the area. It took many years before the city government was able to implement demolition orders issued over the area.

The Bibak compound is covered by OCT 1 named under the Insular Government of the Philippines. A tax declaration with property index 102-07-03302-L001 has been issued to Bibak Student Dormitories Inc.

A previous report by the Courier showed that said group has not been paying real property taxes resulting in the ballooning of payables to the city government.

But a check with the City Treasurer’s Office last week showed that Bibak Student Dormitories Inc. is no longer in the database of the CTO.

In his regular press briefing last Wednesday, Mayor Mauricio Domogan said since the area is government property, it does not have to pay real property taxes.

With the government’s “Build, build, build” program, Domogan, who also happens to the chairman of the RDC said they will reiterate the need to develop the area.

Located along Harrison Road, the Bibak property is considered a prime property especially for business. Sources from the DENR and the city government revealed that several businessmen and real estate developers have proposed to develop the area but these were all turned down.

Calde and Domogan said in case the building were built, the TWG does not have plans of turning some portions into commercial venture.

Calde said the TWG is open to the proposal of some quarters to turn a portion as “creative center” or an exhibit area for artists, under the Baguio’s Creative Circuit plan.

Domogan, on the other hand, said the TWG might consider leasing some portions to government agencies that do not have their own offices.

“It can be turned into a one-stop shop for some government agencies,” Domogan said.


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