Mayor promises due process for residents within airport’s buffer zone

Metro BLISTT

Mayor Benjamin Magalong, during the city council’s regular session on February 24, assured the distraught residents affected by the planned resumption of Loakan Airport’s commercial operation that an investigation will be conducted to determine the legitimacy of their land claims.

Magalong revealed that his office will soon coordinate with the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) for the conduct of a public consultation with the affected residents and barangay officials after gathering all technical data and critical information regarding the project and the results of said investigation.

“Based on the initial data, there are six structures with building permits, one with an occupancy permit, and 43 without building permits but are titled,” Engr. Stephen Capuyan, Head of the CBAO Investigation and Demolition Division, reported.

Capuyan earlier reiterated that the buffer zone measures 75 meters from the centerline on each side of the runway. Of the approximately 200 structures within the declared buffer zone, 150 had already been issued violation notice.

Magalong admitted that the clearing of structures within the buffer zone is a critical process. The chief executive reiterated that the city government had not issued any demolition order to the affected residents.

“What we issued is a violation notice merely informing these residents that they violated the Building Code and that they built their structures within the buffer zone covered by Proclamation No. 1358,” Magalong clarified.

Magalong mentioned the possibility of giving just compensation to residents holding legitimate land titles as a result of expropriation, much to the relief of Punong Barangay Edward Emmanuel Cayetano.

Cayetano, however, lamented the tagging of all residents as illegal settlers claiming many properties in the area had been titled since circa 1910.

Asked about the city’s plans to relocate affected residents, Magalong said that necessary assistance will be provided to those who are entitled of relocation.

The mayor reassured the punong barangay that the city government will settle for a “win-win solution.” “We will do a compromise. What is important is we are applying the law, and we are fair,” Magalong said. “We will continue to engage the CAAP. Titignan natin kung ano ang pinakamagandang paraan.”

Magalong said the city government, in partnership with the CAAP, needs to devise mitigating measures to minimize the number of affected residents and reduce the impact of the implementation of the project. Having met with the CAAP officials on February 21, Magalong said he can vouch for the agency’s uprightness in clearing the protected area starting with the CAAP personnel who themselves had built their structures within the buffer zone.

“The CAAP will again be sending a team to conduct another ocular survey to show that they are bent on cleaning the buffer zone starting with their own employees who practically occupied illegally parts of the CAAP property,” Magalong disclosed.

Magalong implored the residents to abide by the law and to police non-compliant individuals. “Isa lang po ang ipapakiusap ko sa inyo. Sana wala na pong mapapatayo ng structures doon.

Alam niyo kung sino mga kasama niyo,” Magalong stated. “Sa inyo na nanggaling na kaya kayo naidadamay ay dahil sa kalokohan ng iba.”

During the February 3 regular session, Councilors Mylen Victoria Yaranon and Benny Bomogao requested the CAAP to present the development plan of the Loakan Airport before the City Council.

The chief executive, however, relayed that the plan is still “a work in progress.”

Jordan G. Habbiling/ABN