Members of the Baguio City Council urged the executive department to look into the conversion of the property at Sitio Topinao, Poblacion, Tuba, Benguet from an agricultural to residential land in preparation for the implementation of the Pambansang Pabahay Para sa Pilipino Housing (4PH) Project. During the city council’s regular session last April 29, City Legal Officer Althea Alberto and
City Assessor Almaya Addawe said that the property in question is currently an agricultural land as per its tax declaration.

Councilors Jose Molintas and Betty Lourdes Tabanda said that the property needs to be reclassified as a residential land as it is the “normal procedure” before a nonresidential parcel of land is used for any housing project. In an interview last May 30, City Planning and Development Coordinator Donna Tabangin said the City Government of Baguio is currently applying for the property’s land use conversion, and her office is currently preparing the documentary requirements to be submitted to the Municipality of Tuba.

The requirements are; a barangay resolution stating its non-object to the proposed project, Transfer Certificate of Title (TCT), Deed of Sale, requested certificate from the national irrigation
Administration (NIA) stating that the lot is not irrigable, and requested certificate from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources Environmental Management Bureau (DENR-EMB) stating that the lot is not environmentally critical and is afe for human habitation.
After all the requirements have been submitted, the Municipality of Tuba will request the Department of Agriculture for the land conversion.

Once converted, the change will reflect in the zoning and land use plan of the Municipality of Tuba, according to Tabangin. Tabangin mentioned that qualified Baguio residents will be the primary beneficiaries of the housing project, but there is an ongoing discussion between the two concerned local government units on the possibility of accommodating Tuba residents. Meanwhile, Councilor Mylen Yaranon stressed that the said property is a subject of a lins pendens as a result of a land dispute case. Details of the case, however, were not divulged due to the Sub Judice Rule.

On May 17, 2023, the Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development-Cordillera Administrative Region (DHSUD-CAR) led the groundbreaking ceremony of the Topinao 4PH Project. The said housing project is expected to produce a permaculture community with around
6,400 housing units. The 4PH is a flagship program of the Marcos Administration which aims to provide 6.5 million housing units in the country. Previously, several members of the city council expressed reservations on the move of the executive department to purchase the property in Topinao, Tuba, Benguet.

They raised questions and issues on the land’s technical description, its location being outside the city’s territorial jurisdiction, and procurement procedure among others. The property with an area of 63,585 square meters was sold to the city government for P96 million. In the Annual Investment Plan for Fiscal Year 2020 (Ordinance 42-2020) which was approved by the city council in 2020, the executive department identified the purchase of the said land as one of the city’s priority projects for “land banking” purposes.

SP/Jordan G. Habbiling

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