LT farmers, DPWH settle dispute over flood control

>> Friday, May 6, 2022

LA TRINIDAD, Benguet – Stakeholders of the La Trinidad strawberry farm at the swamp area here and project implementors of a flood control project have entered into a peaceful settlement to resolve earlier matters that caused delay of a flood control project.
     Peter S. Bulangen, president Swamp Farmers Association Inc. (SFAI), in an interview said conditions and demands they have over the project were settled during a simple dialogue last week with implementors.
    Bulangan bared agreements discussed: during the implementation of the project, no strawberry farmer would be displaced; included in the flood control project would be access for farmers to the water source; and possible construction of an additional water filtration system within the area.
    Last February, SFAI requested termination and transfer of the flood control project which farmers said, would displace them.
    The request was made in a letter forwarded to Isagani Cayme, OIC district engineer of the Benguet Engineering District of the Dept. of Public Works and Highways.
    The letter was signed lawyer Richard B. Kilaan, lead convenor of Lawyers for Farmers, legal counsel of the Swamp Farmers Assoc. Inc. (SFAI) conformed by Peter S. Bulangen, president Swamp Farmers Association Inc.  and association members.
    The letter was received Feb. 21, 2022, by the DPWH-BED.
     The letter stated, "In a consultation held on Feb. 18, 2022, attended by members of the Swamp Farmers Assoc Inc.(SFAI), representatives of the Benguet State University (BSU), barangay officials of Betag, La Trinidad and representatives of your office.  it appears that there is no prior consultation, knowledge or consent of BSU and the SFAI of the flood control project."
    "Be it noted that the property where you intend to implement the flood control project is property of BSU and our client, the Swamp Farmers Association Inc., have an existing lease contract with BSU. Hence, their prior consent is needed before any project or undertaking is to be implemented in the property." The stated.
     The letter said: "We ask your good office to terminate and to and transfer the implementation of the flood control project to other areas. Otherwise, our office will be constrained to file the appropriate criminal, civil and administrative action in court to protect the rights and interests of our client."
    Bulangen earlier expressed dismay saying, “We were surprised when DPWH personnel arrived with construction materials and said we should start vacating the lands we were tending because they will start with the construction of a flood control project,” leading them to seek help from Lawyers for Farmers.
    Bulangen after the dialogue last week, expressed satisfaction with points and gains of the dialogue. “We are happy to have arrived at a win-win situation, and this time all stakeholders including us tenants were consulted on the matter” Bulangen added.  


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