ENVIRONMENT SECRETARY Roy A. Cimatu yesterday said he has already instructed the regional director of the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) to determine the danger zones in Baguio City and warn establishments and house owners of the landslide threats.
“Sinabihan ko na ang aking regional director there na i-compare ‘yung hazard map sa ground kung saan ang medyo hazardous sa (I have instructed the regional director there to compare the hazard map on the ground where the hazard areas are in) Baguio and we will now identify these buildings and houses na masabihan sila sa (who will be informed of the) danger zone,” Mr. Cimatu told reporters.
Mr. Cimatu said the population in the city, a popular mountain destination, is already above the carrying capacity, and the DENR will make a study on limiting tourists.
He stressed, however, that the main concern is not the tourists, but the safety of the residents.
Mr. Cimatu said structures are only allowed within an 18% slope inclination, but there are those located above this limit, which means they are susceptible to landslides.
Meanwhile, the DENR is also inspecting establishments in Baguio if they comply with environmental regulations such as having a sewage treatment plant (STP).
Eight businesses have so far been given a notice of violation by the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB).
Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR)-CAR Regional Director Ralph C. Pablo said the inspections started earlier this year, about the same time that the Boracay Island probe was launched.
“(We started) to inventory all the restaurants and hotels sa Baguio to determine kung mayroon silang (if they have) STP,” he said.
Mr. Pablo noted that the waste of the eight establishments given notice go to the Balili River, which flows down to La Trinidad.
Mr. Pablo, meanwhile, also said that there is only 15% alienable disposable land in CAR, and the DENR wants to implement an easement of at least three meters from the Balili River in the whole region.
“We are at the moment preparing the river clean up and rehabilitation plan, which we will submit on Dec. 15. That way, we may be able to see how many are affected and how we are going to approach the residents along the easement,” Mr. Pablo said.
“When it comes to easement, that is a big challenge in Baguio due to land shortage. CAR only has 15% alienable disposable land. There is shortage in the lands for private ownership, and the population is growing,” Mr. Pablo said in mixed English and Filipino.
Mr. Pablo said the Regional Development Council (RDC) will implement the BLIST (Baguio, La Trinidad, Itogon, Sablan, Tuba, and Tublay) program, which seeks to distribute development to different areas in the region to ease congestion in Baguio City.
Mr. Pablo also said that those applying for land titles in identified hazardous areas will not get a recommendation from the DENR. — Reicelene Joy N. Ignacio