LA TRINIDAD, Benguet (Sept. 7) — The concerted efforts of affected residents at Camp Bado Dangwa succeeded as police officials agreed to suspend the camp’s perimeter fencing while the relocation survey by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR)-Cordillera and construction of a more permanent passage is underway.
Earlier, affected residents opposed the perimeter fencing in a petition to the La Trinidad municipal council and Benguet provincial board. They said the fencing would block the existing passage of residents adjacent to the camp. They also alleged that the fencing encroached on private lots near the camp.
In the dialog last September 28 at the provincial capitol, police officials yielded to the request of affected residents for a permanent pathway and a relocation survey and settle the scope of the camp reservation. Police officials also agreed to keep the old pathway open until the new pathway is finished, aside from a one meter passage for the residents.
Alapang Barangay Captain Santa Liagao said police officials failed to get the needed building permit for the fencing project.
The Office of the Building Official of La Trinidad issued a certification last September 19 that the fencing at Camp Dangwa did not have a fencing permit. However, acting Building Official Benedict Pineda in his letter to the national office of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) said that his office does not have the jurisdiction to administer the provisions of the National Building Code inside the camp reservation.
Benguet Board Member William Esteban explained that in military reservations like Camp Dangwa the DPWH should assign a building official who will monitor the building activities inside the reservation. He added that the camp is still subject to the zoning ordinance of the municipality. The zoning permit is part of the building permit.
Police Senior Superintendent Noel Manabat reiterated that the perimeter fencing is part of the camp’s security measures.
However, Liagao said the historical record of Camp Dangwa would prove that the community is peaceful and orderly and that no terroristic acts ever happened. “Since when is Camp Dangwa a security risk,” she said.
She added that in the event of an attack, the community surrounding the camp is the PNP’s first line of defense because they would be the first to be hit. She said there are 178 families, mostly organic members of the Philippine National Police (PNP) residing in the camp.
In his earlier letter to the provincial board, outgoing Police Regional Director Raul Gonzales said that Camp Dangwa officials want to preserve the military reservation and prevent more encroachment on the remaining unoccupied portions of the camp. # Kim Ngabit-Quitasol for NORDIS