Revoke their Land Development Permit

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1. We appeal to your sense of dedication to duty and compassion as parens patriae of the community, whereas:

Public service requires integrity and discipline. For this reason, public servants must exhibit at all times the highest sense of honesty and dedication to duty. By the very nature of their duties and responsibilities, government [officials] must faithfully adhere to, hold sacred and render inviolate the constitutional principle that a public office is a public trust; that all public officers and employees must at all times be accountable to the people, serve them with utmost responsibility, integrity, loyalty and efficiency.[1](Emphasis supplied)

2. In line with the People’s Petition on 19 May 2015, signed by 241 people, we the undersigned residents of La Trinidad, Benguet, Churches, organizations and concerned individuals affix our signature as a protest/ petition against the land development permit issued to the Cordillera Home-Saint Francis Community Association Incorporation, hereby known as CHSFCA, with office address at Poblacion, La Trinidad for its project located on top of Windy Hill and Kesbeng, Poblacion, Municipality of La Trinidad with the following reasons:

a. No Public hearing and/or consultation was conducted before the CHSFCA Project was approved and endorsed by the Barangay of Poblacion and Municipal Council, as  required by the Local Government Code. (Attached herewith is the minutes of the dialogue on  18 June  2015 as stated by the Zoning Engineer that there was no consultation as Annex “A”);

 

b. No Free Prior Consent (FPC) was acquired from the Indigenous Peoples as required by law, La Trinidad being considered as an ancestral domain. Section 3 of R.A. 8371[2] provides the following:

x x x

g) Free and Prior Informed Consent — as used in this Act shall mean the consensus of all members of the ICCs/IPs to be determined in accordance with their respective customary laws and practices, free from any external manipulation, interference and coercion, and obtained after fully disclosing the intent and scope of the activity, in a language and process understandable to the community[.]

x x x

c. Despite the Stop Order issued by the Mayor’s Office on 25 May 2015, contemptuous continuous operations are still being made by the CHSFCA anytime of the day- during early morning, at night and even during strong rains. (Attached herewith is the subject Stop-Order of Honorable Mayor Edna C. Tabanda as Annex “B”);

d. As a result of the CHSFCA Project, mud flows continuously, contaminating two (2) springs used as water source by the residents, whose  area are not yet reached by the service of the Water District and water delivery;

 

e. Trees are unlawfully cut and some trees are still in peril of being cut.  These trees are located in the community water shed area as mentioned in the La Trinidad Municipal Council Resolution No. 74-2015 (used by IP’s since time immemorial).  CHSFCA is claiming herein mentioned watershed area as part of their title.  Sadly, the said tree cutting activity will drastically affect the life of the water spring itself as it may lead to the spring drying up.  In addition, the cutting of trees will inevitably result to the loosening of the soil thus resulting to unstable slopes and high probability of life and property threatening landsides. (Attached hereto is the report from the DENR CENRO and photos taken of the trees cut and uprooted by backhoe as Annexes “C” and “D” respectively);

f. Growing Pine trees are covered by dug-up soil that was just dumped along the slopes by the CHSFCA Project workers;

g. Dumping of soil in the low lying areas around the CHSFCA Project is continuous, endangering the adjacent properties, thus, violating the cut and haul terms and conditions set by the Barangay Council;

 

h.      Drainage canals are not identified and are not feasible because in Gayasi and Kesbeng, the natural water path is where the springs are located. Whereas, in Buyagan, the drainage canals are small (as mentioned in the Municipal Resolution No. 74-2015);

i. The identity of the Project is unclear, thus, liability is also unclear in case of any damages during and after the implementation of the Project. The said Project was approved three (3) times with different names.  On 2004, it was Megavista and on 2009 it was Cordillera Homes Cooperative. The Megavista and Cordillera Homes Cooperative were both abandoned.   At those times, no management plan was observed to have been implemented.  Now here comes the new name of CHSFCA with the same target Project;

j. Also, the organization and membership of the so-called cooperatives is vague. Alarmingly, these subject cooperatives are the entities being paraded to apply and avail of permits, certificates and development loans. At no point have legitimate members of these cooperatives came forward to raise their united stand in these raging issues. This therefore brings to fore the very likely possibility that Cordillera Homes Cooperative and CHSFCA are simply fronts of the developer/president to enable him to avail of permits, certificates and development loans;

k. It is unfair to the adjacent property owners because the responsibility to monitor was transferred to them (as per the La Trinidad Municipal Council Resolution No. 74-2015) after the Barangay and the Municipality endorsed and approved the Project.

3. Attached herewith, are the photos which shows the violations of the CHSCA on the terms and conditions listed in said Resolution No. 74-2015. The foregoing had been investigated by the Municipality and by its agents. We now plead for an expeditious and efficient response towards our predicaments;

4. It is said that no amount of engineering structures can mitigate a calamity if it will strike in a geographic area weakened by indiscriminate human interventions.  Painful as it is, let us site the tragedy that struck not only the Province of Rizal but the whole country as well on 3 August 1999. The tragedy of the Cherry Hills Subdivision is summarized as follows:

x x x

[A] massive landslide occurred in Cherry Hills subdivision in Antipolo City, Rizal x x x that caused widespread damage and loss of life. The landslide was primarily caused by the heavy rains of the approaching typhoon Olga. The subdivision became a death trap when its foundations [were] filled with water and the whole complex slid down the hill on which it was built. x x x The subdivision was x x x situated in an elevated terrain cut along the perches of the Sierra Madre mountains. x x x The subdivision encompasses five hectares with paved roads.[3] (Emphasis supplied)

Residents and developers blamed each other. x x x Houses slid down the subdivision’s slopes, putting those in the lower areas under 45,000 cubic meters of mud, rocks, and concrete. People were buried alive. x x x Much soul-searching and finger-pointing have been made since. x x x [A] local court ordered the arrest of three officials of the Philippine-Japan Solidarity Corp., which built the subdivision.[4] (Emphasis supplied)

Certain definite conclusions can already be drawn: while typhoons and rain are “beyond human control”—the death of 60 people at Cherry Hill was not.[5] (Emphasis supplied)

x x x

5. CHSCA has violated and continues to violate numerous laws in carrying out its Subdivision Project, much to our prejudice. We cannot simply be passive observers nor will we be negligent in asserting our rights in the proper forum.   Heretofore, “[f]eigned ignorance and hardness of heart do not diminish, but rather increase, the voluntary character of a sin”[6].

6.  In view of the foregoing, we, the residents/signatories fervently plead and pray, that this PETITION be given weight and that the Registration for Subdivision and The License to Sell Subdivision of the Windy Hill and Kesbeng Housing Project of Cordillera Home-Saint Francis Association Inc. be cancelled.


[1] A.M No. P-04-1925. December 16, 2004
[2] AN ACT TO RECOGNIZE, PROTECT AND PROMOTE THE RIGHTS OF INDIGENOUS CULTURAL COMMUNITIES/INDIGENOUS PEOPLES, CREATING A NATIONAL COMMISSION ON INDIGENOUS PEOPLES, ESTABLISHING IMPLEMENTING MECHANISMS, APPROPRIATING FUNDS THEREFOR, AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES
[3] WIKIPEDIA. (April 30, 2015). 1999 Cherry Hills Subdivision landslide. Retrieved June 29, 2015, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1999_Cherry_Hills_Subdivision_landslide
[4]  Mendoza, Gemma B. (November 22, 201).  The Ghost of Cherry Hills. Retrieved june 29, 2015, from http://www.rappler.com/newsbreak/43720-ghost-of-cherry-hills
[5] Lopez, Celeste. (September 8, 1999).  Why 60 people died in the Cherry Hills housing estate . Retrieved june 29, 2015, from Why 60 people died in the Cherry Hills housing estate
[6] WIKIPEDIA. (April 15, 2015). Actual sin. Retrieved June 30, 2015, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Actual_sin

Officials of Barangay Poblacion and Wangal, Vice Mayor Romeo Salda and Councilors of La Trinidad, Benguet, DENR-EMB CAR, and other agencies  we are calling for your help. REVOKE THEIR PERMITS!