By KIMBERLIE NGABIT-QUITASOL
BAGUIO CITY — Banaue folk protesting the construction of a seven-storey parking lot in the town’s center trooped to the regional office of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) here on September 9 to attend the hearing of a petition for a temporary restraining order (TRO) filed last August 20.
Petitioners represented by Shiela Marie Gayaman asked the NCIP to issue a TRO and subsequently a writ of preliminary injunction citing that the local government failed to get the free prior and informed consent (FPIC) of the Banaue folk over the parking lot project. They pointed out in the petition that the area has historically been the venue of community gatherings and cultural events that include the Imbayah festival.
The petitioners mentioned that NCIP Ifugao issued a certification that no FPIC was conducted.
Placido Wachayna, lawyer of the petitioners, said their petition is now submitted for decision.
Wachayna explained that the NCIP petition is different from the petition filed at the Branch 34 of the regional trial court (RTC) in Banaue, Ifugao. He said the court has yet to decide on the petition filed to stop the project.
Wachayna said they are also awaiting the decision on their petition filed at the RTC after it was heard on September 10.
It can be recalled that Banaue folk petitioned the court to stop the car park building project citing that the community was not consulted. They also mentioned irregularities in the granting of a government loan amounting to P55M for the project.
“The issuance of a TRO is urgent because the construction is going on while our petitions are not yet addressed, like the soil testing, but the RTC seems to not see its importance,” Wachayna said.
He further said they are still awaiting the results of the soil test conducted last September 1 and 2 but the construction proceeded cemented the area where the soil samples were taken. “The construction continued against the advice of engineers to wait for the result of the soil test,” he added.
Banaue Mayor Jerry Dalipog said the project will not touch the open area being used for community festivals and other cultural gatherings. He explained that the parking building will replace a condemned building being used as a commercial center. He added that vendors in the said commercial building will be given stall areas in the parking building.
Dalipog said they have complied with all the requirements for the permit for the parking building construction that includs an environmental compliance certificate.
“The construction (will) push(es) through because there is no legal impediment,” he said. # nordis.net