DAGUPAN CITY – The Sangguniang Panlungsod (SP) here approved on September 14 the transfer of the city hall along Pantal-Lucao area and the reclassification of the property donated by spouses Kerwin and Mary Ann Fernandez and the CSI Warehouse Club Incorporated from agricultural to non-agricultural and for institutional use as a government center.

Nine of the members of the SP, with one objection and one abstention, agreed that the proposed site within the Pantal-Lucao road is consistent with the spirit and intent of the city’s Comprehensive Land Use Plan (CLUP).

The joint committees on land utilization and on laws, ordinances and judiciary in their committee report viewed that any other area alien from an approved plan is unauthorized by law considering that Pantal area meets the requirement provided for under Section 11 of the Local Government Code of 1991.

In the same manner, the joint committee found that the donated lot and road right of way with an aggregate total of 24,560 square meters is sufficient in size as to accommodate the erection of a new, modern and state of the art government center in the Lucao-Pantal area.

That after due consultation, majority of the city’s constituents have expressed overwhelming support to the planned transfer of the government center provided that there shall be a satellite pay station to remain at the present City Hall.

Furthermore, the joint committee believed that any expected increase in the value of properties of CSI should the New City Hall be transferred does not make Mayor Belen T. Fernandez liable for conflict of interest as defined in Republic Act 3019 because the value of all properties near and along De Venecia road will also be increased and that no SP member has either pecuniary or financial interest in the CSI Group of Companies thus they are not liable for graft and corruption as opined by Department of Interior and Local Government Undersecretary Austere A. Panadero.

Panadero also shared the view that a corresponding increase in value of parcels of land adjoining the donated property is only incidental as other owners of properties adjoining the area are also benefited.

After causing the widest dissemination of information in local newspapers and billboards, no one came forward to signify their interest to donate, leaving Mr. Fernandez as the lone donor of lot for the prospective government center.

The joint committee disclosed that the area of the donated land for building and parking and road right of way are within the 15 percent of the total area devoted for agricultural land as certified by the City Agriculture Office.

Aside from the recommendation of the City Development Council to reclassify the area, City Agriculturist Emma J. Molina revealed that the same lots are no longer productive for their usual uses and that reclassification and development for other uses will be more beneficial and relevant.

On the other hand, Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board Regional Director Teresita Galacgac opined that there is no need to reclassify the existing agricultural lands as these were already reclassified and rezoned for non-agricultural uses in the approved CLUP and Zoning Ordinance.

Thus, the joint committee recommended that the ordinance transferring the seat of government to Pantal-Lucao be approved, provided that a satellite pay station shall remain in the old City Hall, which shall be converted as museum and declared as a heritage site. (Joseph C. Bacani/CIO/Sept. 14, 2017)