Baguio politiko loses property in disputed forest reservation
Baguio City Rep. Nicasio Aliping can no longer develop his privately owned resort in Mt. Santo Tomas in Tuba, Benguet that has been declared as a protected watershed and forest reserve.
In a ruling, the Court of Appeals (CA) dismissed Aliping’s motion for reconsideration appealing the issuance of the permanent environmental protection order (PEPO) on the reservation.
The site has been issued a Writ of Kalikasan by the Supreme Court in September 2014.
The CA stopped Aliping from building more structures in his property, which is located within the reservation.
In his petition, the lawmaker said the PEPO deprived him of his right over his property,
which he claimed to have bought before the area was declared a forest reserve through Proclamation No. 581 on July 9, 1940.
He added it also violated his right to due process.
But the appellate court ruled that protecting the mountain supersedes any property rights, even those being asserted by Aliping.
It said “property rights, though sheltered by due process, must yield to the general welfare.”
Local environmental groups and Church officials claimed Aliping’s development of the area such as road excavations have polluted the mountain’s water source that is relied by the communities.
On March 2015, the Department of Justice (DOJ) recommended the filing of criminal charges against Aliping and three private contractors for cutting trees in a three-hectare portion of the forest reserve.
Environment groups claimed the cutting of at least 300 pine trees and saplings were done to pave the way for the construction of a road leading to Aliping’s property.
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