Baguio forces claim over Asin hotspring


BAGUIO CITY — Tension runs high again at the disputed Asin Hotspring Complex after the Baguio City government forcibly cut the water supply feeding the pool and dipping area that is beyond the city’s property, more than a week after constructing a fence past the delineated boundary for the city.

On Wednesday, December 12, men staying at the city’s portion of the contested area disconnected the water line from the hotspring to the part owned by Roger Sinot, Sr. The owner, and officials from the barangay reconnected it on the same day but again removed the following day.

Prior to this, on November 29 the city sent men to build fence and padlock the property, including the parts outside the 4,344.23 square meters the city owned located in Asin, Nangalisan, Tuba in Benguet province.

TRESPASSING? Men claiming to be from Baguio City’s Public Order and Safety Department
forced their way inside the Sinot Hotspring Resort and built a fence to separate the area they claim owned by the city. (Photo by Ramon Balaneg)

The construction workers together with personnel from the Public Order and Safety Department (POSD) installed a concrete fence on the entrance of the house of Sinot and to the dipping pools. The first gate to the same property was also padlocked effectively denying both the owners and customers ingress and egress.

Sinot, together with his lawyer talked to the POSD men who were guarding the place the following day. After negotiating with the city employees, his workers removed the fence.

On Saturday, December 1, workers from POSD reinstalled the barricade and padlocks. When the wife of Sinot, Karen, and personnel of the resort asked for their identification and written order for the job, they refused to present any.

Metes and bounds

Sheriff Joselito S. Tumbaga of the Regional Trial Court, who was tasked to ensure the implementation of the order in his June 6, 2017 report expressed his “dilemma on how to approach and resolve” the situation.

He was referring to the fact that half of the poll is within the property of the city while the other half is inside the area claimed by Sinot. To move forward, the parties arrived on a joint property survey.

BOUNDARIES.  Survey plan showing the area owned by the City of Baguio as per execution of the court ruling.

The conclusive survey showed that only a portion of the area then occupied by the Sinot Hot Spring Resort is owned by the city. The blue print was signed by Engr. Marcos Badongen of the City Environment and Natural Resources Office, General Services Officer Eugene Buyucan and Engineer Fabrico Guyon of Baguio City, and Tumbaga.

According to Sinot’s wife, Karen, upon the partial implementation of the Writ of Execution, they have agreed to have a demarcation line to cut the pool in two based on the survey plan with Engr. Buyucan.

Property turn-over

The series of aggressive steps came after the demarcated city property were turned over on November 26, in compliance with the 2010 order of the 5th Municipal Circuit Trial Court in Tuba and Sablan, Benguet.

Acting Presiding Judge Modesto Bahul, Jr. ordered Sinot, who manages the resort, to “immediately vacate the subject parcel of land” including the installed improvements such as pools and bath houses.

“It was observed that Mr. Sinot has already drained the swimming pool and their sheds were being dismantled voluntarily,” said the November 27 report of Tumbaga.

The sheriff also noted in the report that he explained to Sinot the subject of the order he is executing is the 4344.23 square meter of land and also issued a turn over receipt.
Complaint filed

On December 3, Karen filed a case against the forcible entry and fencing of individuals in their property.

She lodged a charge of trespassing, grave coercion and violation of Section 213 of the National Building Code against Luther Batallier, Randy Agumas, Ian Batallier, Bryan Agumas, John Agumas, Jorlyn Agumas and Justin Ramirez.

The individuals were the ones who entered the portion claimed by the Sinots and erected a fence in the evening of November 29. They claimed to be from “Brownfield Corporation” who was taking over the place.

Husband and wife also filed a case before the Commission on Human Rights on the same day, claiming the city has “clearly and unmistakably violated” their rights to their “property, source of livelihood, safety and human dignity.” #


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