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Baguio City gov’t slams BCDA ‘interference’

CHILDREN run near their school in one of the villages inside Camp John Hay where school construction is being stopped by the Bases Conversion and Development Authority in a move that has put it on a collision course with the Baguio City government. RICHARD BALONGLONG/INQUIRER NORTHERN LUZON

BAGUIO CITY—The city government has locked horns with the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) over the agency’s decision to regulate the construction of schools and a road-widening project in villages inside the Camp John Hay reservation.

In a statement, Mayor Mauricio Domogan said City Resolution No. 362, issued in 1994 and which prescribes 19 conditions for Baguio’s endorsement of Camp John Hay’s privatization, bars BCDA from interfering with the affairs of 13 village councils.

Domogan said condition No. 14 obliges BCDA to segregate these villages from the Camp John Hay reservation.

He ordered the city legal office to assert the 19 conditions in light of a BCDA decision to stop the construction of new classrooms for the Baguio City National High School at its extension site in Barangay (village) Hillside, one of the villages inside the former American rest and recreation center.

The city council supported Domogan, authorizing city legal officer Melchor Rabanes “to determine the necessary steps to be undertaken to compel compliance” by the BCDA with the conditions.

The city government has been making the same plea over the years with the mayor expressing disappointment over the BCDA’s refusal to honor the conditions, particularly when BCDA challenged the city’s authority to impose building and occupancy permit requirements on new structures inside the John Hay Special Economic Zone.

Another concern aired by the mayor is over the BCDA’s interference in village issues, including those involving ancestral land claims and the construction of school buildings in the villages.

The council resolution asked BCDA “not to disturb the tenure of the present government and other public structures in the areas to be segregated.”

“While this only covers in the meantime schools and day-care centers, there is fear that eventually this will cover all public structures, including possibly barangay halls, covered courts, other educational institutions and other government structures,” said the council resolution.

“There is no need for any contract of usufruct to be executed with BCDA if only BCDA will immediately cause the segregation of the barangays as contained in the (conditions),” it said.

The villages being considered for segregation from the John Hay reservation are Camp 7, Country Club Village, Greenwater, Happy Hallow, Hillside, Loakan-Apugan, Loakan-Liwanag, Loakan Proper, Lower Dagsian, Lucnab, Military Cut-Off, Sta. Escolastica Village and Upper Dagsian.

In a text message, lawyer Arnel Paciano Casanova, BCDA president, said the agency wanted to set things in order.

“What we want is to have a deliberate and better planning for building schools in John Hay, not the unplanned and chaotic, as well as unsafe, locations of schools,” he said. Vincent Cabreza, Inquirer Northern Luzon

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Tags: Bases Conversion and Development Authority , Camp John Hay , Education , Mayor Mauricio Domogan , News , public infrastructures , Regions

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