BAGUIO CITY (June 18) — A considerable portion of the national highway, Kennon Road, being considered as a part of the national heritage and the gateway to this mountain resort city, is not intended for residential purposes and that houses built on it are considered illegal structures, an official of the Bureau of Lands boss told Baguio City councilors Monday.
Appearing on request by the city council, Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Bureau of Lands Regional Technical Director Victor Carantes said some 60 meters on both sides of any national road along a forested area is road right of way (ROW), and that no residential nor commercial building may be allowed.
“In the case of Kennon Road, there are houses being built, some even as big as mansions in posh villages,” Councilor Edilberto Tenefrancia said.
Although Carantes evaded the issue whether the houses are illegal or not, he said there are no applicants for any lot along Kennon Road. He added if no building permits have been issued for these houses, they are considered illegal under the National Building Code. He admitted the proliferation of informal settlers along the highway even within the prohibited sites like the areas covered by the highway’s ROW.
Carantes also testified his office has not issued any provisional permit for the construction of any one of these structures nor has given due course to any town site sales application covering lots within the prohibited area, especially below the view deck. He also cited that there are ancestral land claimants in the area.
Carantes instead encouraged the city council to pass a resolution directing the DENR to issue a proclamation over Kennon Road to declare it as a “national shrine” to protect it from further encroachment.
Council Resolution No. 112-2003 urged President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo “to take the leadership in preserving Kennon Road as a Heritage Site and as premier gateway to the City of Baguio.” Councilor Antonio Tabora Jr. noted that the resolution was passed to obtain the necessary appropriations from the DPWH for the road’s rehabilitation into a world-class all-weather road.
The body believes that the road’s preservation as heritage site will prevent its being taken over by informal settlers. # Lyn V. Ramo for NORDIS, with a report by Aileen P. Refuerzo/PIO