THE Baguio City Council has asked the Department of Education (DepEd) to help with preserving a contested school property in Camp John Hay by placing it under the public education system as the villagers of Barangay Scout Barrio battle with the John Hay Management Corporation (JHMC).
The John Hay Elementary School (JHES) in Scout Barrio is the subject of dispute between villagers and the JHMC over rights over barangay roads, institutional lots, and open public spaces, according to Councilor Fred Bagbagen. JHMC manages the estate under the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA).
The JHES, operated as a private school run by Scout Barrio residents, closed at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Its premises were briefly used as a community hall, but JHMC took over the school in May 2021.
Scout Barrio was first of the 14 villages in the area segregated from the former American base after the BCDA agreed to comply with the city’s 19 conditions in 1994 in exchange for endorsing the master development plan for John Hay’s commercial and built-up spaces.
BCDA has yet to separate the villages of Camp 7, Military Cut-Off, Sta. Escolastica Village, Country Club Village, Greenwater, Hillside, Loakan-Apugan, Loakan-Liwanag, Loakan Proper, Upper Dagsian and Lower Dagsian, Lucnab and Happy Hallow, which is designated as the city’s only Ibaloy ancestral domain.
The BCDA has asserted that it retains administrative control over all areas of the 600-hectare reservation, including JHES and Scout Barrio’s open spaces.
On Jan. 23, the firm put up a signage at the adjacent open field, which advised residents to seek JHMC’s permission when using the area.
The Scout Barrio open field, its Camp Concio Grounds, and the lots where the elementary school and barangay hall stand are part of the 15 hectares mentioned in Executive Order No. 64, which segregated the barangay, according to Scout Barrio Senior Citizens Association President Rusela Bacungan.
With the two parties at an impasse, the residents of Scout Barrio village have sought out the assistance of the Baguio City Council in resolving the matter, stating that the matter would set precedent that could affect the other barangays in Camp John Hay in the future.