The Baguio Dairy Farm, can the government keep it?

Share

By Joel B. Belinan

I remember that in 2014, then Mayor Mauricio Domogan, upon learning that there is such a court decision took the initiative to convene various government offices such as the DA, the courts, and the PNP among others for the implementation of the demolition order that was based on the court decision. “

Last week, two legal issues about lands in the city caught my attention. First, was the Court decision dismissing the petition of the supposedly title holder of a lot at the Baguio Animal Breeding and Research Center (BABRC) or the former Baguio Dairy Farm. The second was the warning from the City Mayor to the public against transacting or buying lots covered by already declared null and void ancestral land titles.
Regarding the mayor’s warning, we will discuss that in later issues, so let us concentrate on the BABRC ruling as it is still fresh from the mill. The Court on May 2, 2023, finally resolved to dismiss the case filed against DA-BABRC although as had been the case of many legal decisions, it does not necessarily prevent the petitioner or any other speculator for that matter from still trying to grab the lot. As an ordinary citizen, my worry is still there even if the case has already been decided in favor of the government due to the vigilance of BABRC Manager Mr. Robert Domoguen. Had it not been for him when that guy (What’s his name? Derecho?) tried several times to occupy the area in question in the past two years or so, he could have easily succeeded. Thanks to Mr. Domoguen’s leadership, coordinating with the various government offices, especially with the Police both from the City and Camp Dangwa, the DA regional office, City Mayor’s office among others, those attempts to occupy the land were thwarted.
As I have always been saying, if government functionaries are sincere and non-compromising in the performance of their duties, problems would not grow to become gargantuan ones. The best example here is the BABRC itself. While there is that decision, the much bigger part of the more than 100 hectare area previously known as the Baguio Dairy Farm is occupied by illegal settlers. This is despite the court decision that even matured into finality as early as 2012 affirming that the area is government owned.
I remember that in 2014, then Mayor Mauricio Domogan, upon learning that there is such a court decision took the initiative to convene various government offices such as the DA, the courts, and the PNP among others for the implementation of the demolition order that was based on the court decision.
Unfortunately, while the DA which is the owner of the land took over the coordination, bureaucratic hitches delayed the implementation until December of 2016. As one of the personnel from the Mayor’s Office at that time who conducted the investigation and inventory of the illegal structures in the area, we found out there were more than 440. However, while the demolition was implemented in December 2016, the implementation was done at a snail’s pace and then disaster fell on the operation. The Sheriff tasked to implement it died of a heart attack. Then the court dragged its feet and we don’t know if a sheriff was appointed to replace the deceased sheriff to implement the demolition which was never continued and completed. As if it was forgotten.
And yes, as you guessed, the illegal structures that were demolished before were rebuilt and more structures sprouted. Hence what I am saying is that there appears to be a problem with how the government has been protecting its domains. If anyone doubts this statement, go to BABRC or the former Dairy farm and see for yourselves how most of the area has been occupied. And mind you the structures there are not just so-called simple shanties or the traditional squatters but houses that are worth millions.
The owners of those structures and the developers in that area are big people in the business sector and politics (politicians from the lowlands). As of now with the court victory, there appears to be some kind of a morale booster for concerned officials, especially Mng. Robert Domoguen. But what about the bigger portions that were occupied by illegal settlers? Is the government just continuing to watch and pretend that there is no problem?
As to the vacant areas that remain in the hands of the government, how long can it hold on to these? It is a consolation that Mng. Robert is very sincere and non-compromising in his performance of his duties as a government official. Unfortunately, he is also approaching retirement age. If the next BABRC manager is the kind of government employee who is just contented on his/her 15-30 pay then am afraid that land is bound to be lost. Or are we resigned that sooner or later those parcels of land of the government will fall in the hands of speculators who have the means to circumvent things in their favor? **


Share

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

nine + 4 =