AS House Bill 9428, which provides for the delineation and classification of land in 13 barangays in the Camp John Hay reservation makes its way through the legislative process after its recent filing, the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) has gone ahead and provided certificates of recognition to 39 residents of Barangay Hillside, qualifying said recipients to acquire the plots of land they have resided in since 1991.
According to BCDA President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Joshua Bingcang, the 39 recipients were identified based on internal criteria and will be allowed to purchase, for residential purposes, the lot they are presently occupying subject to the validation, adjustment, and approval of BCDA and JHMC.
However, more than 1,500 individuals live in Barangay Hillside as of the 2020 census.
Bingcang also said that the BCDA will comply with the demands and requests of the city but only “insofar as they are consistent with Republic Act 7227 or the BCDA Law.”
Segregation of the Baguio barangays that are within BCDA jurisdiction has been a long-standing goal of the Baguio government and among the conditions imposed by the city in the 1994 deal in exchange for its endorsement of the John Hay Master Development Plan. The 19 conditions remain a sticking point and a point of contention in the talks between BCDA and the city government.
With the continued protracted disagreement between the BCDA and the local government and the increasing demand for its resolution, Baguio Congressman Mark Go has filed a separate bill in addition to the pending bills that involve the BCDA.
House Bill 9428, filed by Go, specifically defines lots in 12 barangays within John Hay, including Hillside, to be classified as alienable and disposable lands excluded from the operations of Republic Act 7227, or the Bases Conversion and Development Act of 1992, essentially removing the portions of land from BCDA jurisdiction.
While the bill contains certain conditions such as the classification of open space in between residential areas in the disposable lands as greenbelt zones not subject to disposition or improvement, the bill also explicitly transfers to the city government any existing roads and paths, waterways, community facilities, and multi-purpose areas to be under Baguio jurisdiction.
Forest areas and national government facility areas with existing agreements with BCDA or JHMC within the reservation, including but not limited to public schools, water and natural resources, shall remain public and under BCDA supervision, except for public schools, which the bill would see transferred to the Department of Education (DepEd) jurisdiction.