46 informal settlers booted out of PMA-A A +A
By JM Agreda
Wednesday, March 26, 2014
FORT DEL PILAR -- The Philippine Military Academy (PMA) demolished 46 illegal structures inside its military reservation Monday morning despite pleas from illegal settlers for an extension of the demolition.
PMA public affairs chief Major Agnes Lynette Flores said the academy's Task Group Anti-Squatting pursued with its scheduled dismantling of the illegal structures in Lots 6 and 7 within the Fort del Pilar military reservation.
Flores, in a press statement, added the planned demolition has been relayed to the concerned illegal settlers through a "pulong-pulong" or dialogue held at Lot 6 inside Fort Del Pilar February 18 and in succeeding dialogues on March 1 and March 22.
The City Government also expressed its support for PMA's Anti-Squatting plans and efforts based in another dialogue conducted at Baguio City Hall February 24 involving the PMA-Real Estate Office, City Administrator Carlos Canilao and City Legal Officer Melchor Rabanes.
The PMA's move is backed by a recent decision of the Baguio Regional Trial Court branch 60 Judge Edilberto Claravall which strengthened the academy's claim for the contested parcels of land which the illegal settlers occupy.
The court denied Land Reform Beneficiaries Association Inc., represented by its president Rebeccca Dulawan, who petitioned for the issuance of a writ of preliminary injunction to restrain, prevent, and prohibit the PMA from proceeding with the demolition.
The demolition was supposed to have been conducted August 18, 2012, which was eventually extended to October 31, 2012 but the court then granted LRBAI and Dulawan's plea for the issuance of a Temporary Restraining Order.
Judge Claraval noted the affected households were not able to provide enough evidence on how they were able to possess their property.
“It is the first condition under Section 3, Rule 58 of the Rules of Court, that before a preliminary injunction may be granted, it must be established that the applicant is entitled to the relief demanded, which in this case is the property where their structures where constructed, and the whole or part of such relief consists in restraining the commission or continuance of the act or acts complained or, or in requiring the performance of an act or acts, either for a limited period or perpetually,” the court ruled.
In the case of petitioner, the court dismissed the petition for lack of merit as it explained that evidence submitted has not been established that LRBAI has real and actual interest over the property and is entitled to a relief.
Flores stressed the conduct of the dismantling of illegal structures was observed by PMA with utmost respect of the rights of affected households and adhered to the procedures required by the law in the undertaking of the demolition.
She added invitations were also sent to the Commission on Human Rights, City Building and Architecture Office and Philippine National Police to act as observers during the actual day of demolition.
The PMA also offered limited assistance to the affected households in dismantling their structures and transporting the dismantled materials within a five kilometer distance from the Camp before the actual conduct of the demolition.
However, members of the LRBAI remained firm they have rights over the parcels of land inside the PMA military reservation.
Dulawan said they will appeal the local court’s decision and seek redress in higher courts.
Meantime, Sun.Star Baguio has learned the informal settlers have alleged internal issues on the leadership of their association which resulted to the group’s failing to come up with a united action to seek for an extended stay inside the military reserve.
In an earlier statement, the PMA stressed they are backed by Armed Forces of the Philippines regulations which provides that military reservations “should be free from squatters (informal settlers) since their presence interferes with security and retards the development plans of the AFP”.
PMA also finds basis of such effort on the Memorandum Circular issued by the Department of the Interior and Local Government on the prevention of proliferation of informal settlers through coordination efforts with local governments in pursuing measures to free the barangay communities with squatters.
The academy stressed it is mandated to ensure the implementation of programs and actions necessary to remove present informal settlers and prevent those who intend to encroach into its military camps such as Fort del Pilar, Camp Allen and Navy Base, all within Baguio city.
The area being occupied by the informal settlers, consisting of Lots 6 and 7, is part of the military reservation as provided for in Proclamation 2011.
Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on March 27, 2014.