Kids made victims in Dairy Farm demolition

Oct 9, 2017

Nearly two months after the demolition of the houses of some 251 families within the disputed Baguio Dairy Farm lot that an Ibaloy clan claims has been their own “since time immemorial”, hundreds of students face another bleak grading period because of the uncertainty of ever having a roof above their heads and four walls that will keep them safe from the elements of the weather.
This, even as the temporary restraining order preventing 57 other structures from being demolished expires Friday, Oct. 6.
“It was just harrowing, we can’t even assure our kids if they can sleep in a bed,” recalled Lancy Joy Dawis of that Aug. 10 and 11 demolition that saw 251 families homeless.
“Saan na po kami uuwi?” was a question many of these kids asked just as they started their first grading examinations and burdened by the fact that they have nowhere to sleep once the bell rings signaling another end of an academic day.
Or it was “may uuwian pa ba kami,” she added, saying that the speaker was not sure whether their house still stands.
Some of the kids failed during the first grading period and she is afraid that they will follow the same route this time due to the stress of being homeless. The younger go to public elementary and high school in Tuba, while the older are usually enrolled in the city.
She added, “How can you study when you don’t even have a roof, a table, a seat and light when it grows dark?”
Dawis, vice president of the Cordillera Knights of the Old Code which the urban poor organization of the illegal settlers at the property recognized by the Philippine Commission on Urban Poor, said that most of them remain in the area hoping that their plea will be heard by the DA and the local government.
In fact, most of them have constructed lean-tos or even put up tents which DA guards usually dismantle. “You know the structure used by cock raisers, well we are reduced to that,” she said in the vernacular.
“We just hope that the PCUP will convene the inter-agency meeting, go back to the table and decide our fate,” she added since they have been living like nomads with no electricity and water from tap. “We get water from the rain,” she said.
She said that they are banking on the PCUP to help provide a relocation site for the 645 members of the CKOC, since demolition must only be undertaken if there is a relocation site.
In a letter to BCPO director SSupt. Ramil Saculles and sheriff Patrick Putiyon last Sept. 15, PCUP director Terry Ridon asked both to hold in abeyance demolition of structures of CKOC members.
Ridon likewise wrote for the two officials “to evaluate the merits of the appeal pursuant to the presidential directive of President Rodrigo Duterte of “no demolition without relocation.”
Last August 10 and 11, 251 illegal structures erected over a part of the 94-hectare Baguio Dairy Farm were dismantled by members of the city demolition team on the strength of a special writ of demolition that was issued by a local court.
In his report to Mayor Mauricio Domogan, Public Order and Safety Division head Policarpio Cambod said that 219 shanties and 32 concrete structures were dismantled.
Owners of the remaining 57 illegal structures avoided getting demolished after the issuance of four temporary restraining orders (TROs) by two local courts.
Cambod’s office was tapped by the city government to augment the members of the Baguio City Police Office (BCPO) and the members of the City Demolition Team in dismantling the illegal structures.
The concerned local courts gave the Office of the Solicitor-General up to Friday, Oct. 6, to respond to the petition of some of the affected informal settlers for the exemption of their huge structures from the implementation of the special writ of demolition issued against all the informal settlers in the area.
Earlier, Domogan said that the DA will address the issues raised by the petitioners in their petition to convince the court to dissolve the TRO that will allow the continuation of the stalled demolition.
He expressed optimism that the issuance of the TRO order is a temporary setback in the government’s effort to curb the proliferation of illegal structures in government reservations around the city. He added that the demolition of the 251 illegal structures was a clear message to enterprising land owners to stop speculating by building illegal structures over public and private lands in some parts of the city.
The DA has earmarked some P2 million to dismantle the illegal structures so that the agency could use the property for its prescribed purpose, specifically in aggressively promoting dairy production in the area with the expected increase in the number of cows that could be milked to increase the availability of dairy products not only in the city but also in the different parts of the region.
The area has been claimed by the heirs of Ikang Paus and has been recognized by the National Commission on Indigenous People. But the court refused to recognize this in a decision it rendered recently.
The BCPO deployed more than 100 law enforcers that ensured peace and order will prevail in the area following the slight resistance offered by some affected informal settlers. PML / ABN

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