Baguio thumbs down water access for community living in protected watershed

Artemio Dumlao - Philstar.com
Baguio thumbs down water access for community living in protected watershed
This 2018 file photo shows Baguio City, known as the country's summer capital and as the City of Pines.
The STAR / Artemio Dumlao

BAGUIO CITY, Philippines — Villagers in a barangay located within a watershed reservation have been denied access to water by the Baguio Water District, which said it cannot grant their request because they are living in a protected area.

At least 25 residents of Pinget, situated within the Buyog Watershed Forest Reserve, had asked the city council for water service to their community.  

BWD lawyer Chanell Dolor de Guzman stressed that Proclamation No. 93, s. 1992, which established the Buyog Watershed withdrew the entire area from entry sale, disposition, or settlement. "[I]ndeed, water is a basic human right, the BWD's hands are tied by restrictions due to the fact that we have to protect the water sources therein," de Guzman said.

Aside from water service, Proclamation No. 93, s. 1992, Section F of Ordinance 67-2009 categorically prohibits the installation of electric and water supply to structures that are "within government reservations, school areas, national and forest reservations, duly identified watershed areas, road right-of-ways and on dangerous areas as identified by the proper government agency."

Not even a Certificate of Ancestral Land Claim (CALC) issued by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources would overturn Proclamation No. 93.

The BWD had not granted any application for structures situated within forest and watershed reservations since the passage of the ordinance. No exemption is given to any applicant residing within a reservation so as not to create any precedent, the water district official said.

Based on a DENR-CAR survey, of the 20 hectares delineated for the Buyog Watershed, 12 hectares have already been occupied by settlers while the remaining 7.92 hectares is still forested.




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