For humanitarian reasons, CAAP allows Loakan residents to pass in a regulated manner

The Baguio City Council recently passed a resolution, tasking the City Engineering Office (CEO)
to identify possible areas for the construction of an access road for the communities affected by
the reopening of the Loakan Airport and to identify the project cost. The proposed construction of an access road is meant to ease the residents’ burden of having to travel at a great distance using the main highway to get to their destination on the other side when the runway is closed to

As this developed, Rosita Tamayo , Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) Airport Manager of the Loakan Airport agreed to allow pedestrians to cross the runway at Loakan Airport on a regulated schedule for humanitarian reasons. Following international standards, runways should not be used by pedestrians. Tamayo clarified that the schedule for the opening and closure of the runway is not fixed as delays in flights happen unexpectedly.

Earlier, residents of Sitios Arupong, Mangga, Pongian, Suyoc, and Ongasan expressed concern about the imposition of closure of the runway for the arrival and departure of aircrafts. In previous meetings with the affected residents, CAAP had imposed the closure of the runway for one and a half hour before an aircraft’s arrival and one hour after departure as part of its safety procedure for the operation of the Loakan Airport.

In a forum with the city council, barangay officials of Loakan Proper and affected residents proposed to shorten the closing hours. They told the council that the imposed closure of the runway puts the nearby community at a disadvantage as residents cross the airstrip for their day-to-day activities. The possibility of providing shuttles to transport residents to the other side when the runway is closed as a short-term remedy was also broached during the discussion. However, Tamayo said CAAP is not financially capable to provide such service.

Meanwhile, residents near the Loakan Airport are still waiting for updates from the city government regarding the status of their settlement. Edouard Cayetano, Punong Barangay of Loakan Proper, told the city council that there had not been any conference yet with the city’s Anti-Squatting and Anti-Illegal Structures Committee since 2020. in January 2020, around 180 owners of structures reportedly situated within the buffer zone were issued notices of violation pursuant to Mayor Benjamin Magalong’s call for an investigation on the said buildings and houses.

This was in preparation for the opening of the airport to commercial operations. Past council session, Engr. Stephen Capuyan, head of the Investigation and Demolition Division of the City Buildings and Architecture Office (CBAO), clarified that the violation notice was to merely inform the occupants that they had violated Section 22 of the Environment Code of the City of Baguio or Ordinance 018-2016 (prohibition against erecting a structure on a safeguarded zone). No notices of demolition had been issued yet, he said.

As part of the preliminary investigation, the residents were mandated to submit copies of their lot titles, building and occupancy permits, and other pertinent documents. Capuyan said, based on the results of the initial investigation, most of these buildings and houses can be considered as illegal structures as they were not issued building permits and the lands were untitled.

In a separate interview, Atty. Charles Dumasi of the City Legal Office, said the Anti-Squatting and Anti- Illegal Structures Committee had requested CAAP to initiate the conduct of a land survey to accurately identify the metes and bounds of the safeguarded zone and to exactly determine which structures are situated therein.

Dumasi disclosed that the investigation had been put on hold since CAAP had a reference point for the measurement of the bufferzone which might be different from that of CBAO’s. Expropriation is the government’s action of claiming private properties even against the will of the owners for public use or benefit.

SP/Jordan G. Habbiling

Amianan Balita Ngayon