Lion’s Head informal settlers get reprieve

Dozens of informal settlers within the vicinity of the Lion’s Head in barangay Camp 7 were able to get a 30-day reprieve after the Department of Public Works and Highways – Baguio City District Engineering Office (DPWH-BCDEO) gave in to their appeal for the rescheduling of the demolition of their illegal structures.

The informal settlers signed a commitment that they will voluntarily dismantle their illegal structures upon the expiration of the 30-day grace period and that they will transfer to their proposed relocation site that was constructed by the agency for the said purpose.

The illegal structures erected within the vicinity of the Lion’s Head along Kennon Road were supposed to be dismantled last October 10-11, 2017 but the 15 informal settlers were able to lobby for the resetting of the scheduled demolition to a later date to allow them to take advantage of the expected influx of tourists to the city during the holidays and sell their products to the visitors.

Earlier, the DPWH-BCDEO issued the necessary demolition order for the dismantling of the illegal structures because of alleged encroachments done by the informal settlers on the road-right-of-way of the national road.

The City Buildings and Architecture Office (CBAO) also conferred with the issued demolition order after discovering that the put-up of the illegal structures were done without securing the required building permit from the said office, which violates the provisions of Presidential Decree (PD) No. 1096 or the National Building Code.

DPWH officials expressed confidence that the informal settlers will comply with their commitment to voluntarily dismantle the illegal structures they erected along the road-right-of-way of Kennon Road, considering that the agency will no longer grant an extension to the reprieve granted to them upon their representation that they must be humanely given the appropriate treatment.

The DPWH-BCDEO will be introducing the needed repairs in the proposed relocation site of the informal settlers so they will be able to continue their trade in selling souvenir items to visitors and to guarantee their safety considering that their existing position along the road-right-of-way poses a serious threat to their safety, especially during peak months where visitors flock to the city.

It can be recalled that the informal settlers that were issued the demolition order refused to occupy the proposed relocation site built by the agency several years ago for fear that visitors will not patronize their products due to the distance between the Lion’s Head and the area where their stalls are situated.

However, the informal settlers agreed to the contention that visitors will be constrained to patronize their products once all of them will transfer to their proposed relocation site which was constructed by the agency to help significantly reduce the monstrous traffic congestions in the Lion’s Head area during the peak season. - Dexter A. See