Read this in The Manila Times digital edition.
SAN CARLOS CITY: Gov. Ramon Guico 3rd this week said the Pangasinan provincial government will assert its ownership over Malico, an upland barangay (village) of San Nicolas town that is being claimed by Santa Fe town in Nueva Vizcaya.
“We cannot just give whatever is owned by the province. We will assert our right. We will fight for it,” Guico also said in an interview with reporters here.
Last week, the Nueva Vizcaya provincial board led by Vice Gov. Jose Gambito held a special session in Barangay Malico and passed a resolution urging San Nicolas town officials to build infrastructure projects outside the boundary of Malico.
The resolution also urged San Nicolas town officials to respect the boundary of each town and respect the rights of the Kalanguya tribe in Barangay Malico and their ancestral domain rights.
“I have written to the [Pangasinan] provincial board to create a special committee on boundary dispute settlement because we cannot allow that to happen,” Guico said.
He added that he had talked with San Nicolas Mayor Alicia Primicias-Enriquez and Pangasinan Sixth District Rep. Marlyn Agabas to plan their course of action.
Malico, which is nestled on the top of the Caraballo mountains, has an elevation of 1,675 meters above sea level (masl), higher than Baguio City’s 1,470 masl.
It has a land area of 1,618 hectares, which is one-fourth of Baguio’s 5,750 ha.
From San Nicolas, Malico can now be reached by land travel in 1.5 hours after the rehabilitation of the 22.3-kilometer Pangasinan segment of the Pangasinan-Nueva Ecija Road, also known as the Villa Verde trail.
The Villa Verde trail was used by Allied forces in chasing retreating Japanese soldiers during World War 2.
The trail crosses the Caraballo mountains from Barangay Sta. Maria East in San Nicolas to Barangay Imugan in Santa Fe town in Nueva Vizcaya.
In the 1970s, Malico could be reached easily by motor vehicles from the town proper through the Villa Verde Trail.
But the difficulty of maintaining the trail, compounded by a very low daily traffic average, prompted the Department of Public Works and Highways to close it to motorists in the 1980s.
After the 1990 earthquake, its condition worsened because of landslides that left most parts of the trail impassable.
Because of this, residents had to hike to San Nicolas or take the longer route via Nueva Vizcaya and Nueva Ecija provinces.
Guico said Malico’s elderly residents recognize that their village is a part of Pangasinan.
The only problem, he added, was that Malico had become more accessible to people from Nueva Vizcaya when the Villaverde Trail was closed.
Malico residents also continue to receive projects from the San Nicolas town government.
On August 27, Primicias-Enriquez had a dialogue with the Malico barangay council to talk about the projects to be undertaken using a P4-million grant from the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict.
The barangay council aired its concern on the concreting of road and road solar street lights as they are deemed necessary for the people of Malico including tourists.
The council told the mayor about the incoming regional celebration of the Indigenous Peoples’ Month to be held in their barangay this October.
On September 23, Primicias-Enriquez returned to the village to distribute the training support allowances of scholars under the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority.