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PMA enclosure draws flak from settlers, IPs

Republika

As the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) carries out its fencing operation in order to secure the entirety of Fort del Pilar’s expansive land, the inhabitants of some areas that fall under the project have raised their grievances.


According to PMA real estate officer Maj. Julesther Cañada, the fencing project began in August and aims to fulfill the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ (AFP) mandate of military property consolidation within Baguio City.


However, sections of the military reserve’s 373-hectare territory is home to groups of informal settlers that had already filed for segregation from PMA’s land, back in 2017.


Despite Cañada’s assurances of the enclosure not barring access to more than a hundred households within the area, the Bontoc Organization of Purok Ongasan Loakan Inc. (BOPOLI) brought the issue to the city council.


BOPOLI has been working to secure titles to the lands they have lived on for decades, with hope for their cause having come previously in the form of a government shelter program, but on the condition that their 29,000 square meter lot be divided first from PMA.


This segregation program did not come to fruition though, as the Department of Defense (DOD) itself objected to its fulfillment.


Furthemore, Indigenous Peoples (IPs) from the Ibaloi clans of Canda, Chacchacan, and Tagle, have informed the city council that certain sections of the BOPOLI property which fall under the fencing project’s scope, overlap with their ancestral lands.


In response to the public flak from these groups, Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong stated that an agreement was bartered through his intercession, between the settlers and PMA back in August, ensuring that the inhabited areas would not be affected by the enclosure, and that the military school has been keeping their word.


Magalong also asked BOPOLI to coordinate with other concerned parties such as the Ibaloi clans, in order to produce an amalgamated position that he would forward to military authorities in order to address the matter.


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