CdO village officials, residents question reso endorsing XU dev’t

Oct. 23, 2022

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, Philippines – Officials in a village in this city’s uptown district have questioned a document that endorses the proposal of a real estate developer to build a new campus for Xavier University (XU).

The paper in question was the village resolution that allows the Cebu Landmasters Inc. (CLI) to develop the Manresa Farm, the training ground for the university’s agriculture students, into a mixed-use complex that will become the Masterson Campus and Manresa Town.

According to the information posted on XU’s official website, the Masterson Campus will be constructed on a 21-hectare land, adjacent to the 14.3-hectare township to be known as Manresa Town located at the upper zone of Balulang village.

“The planned township will have modern school buildings, dormitories, a main plaza, interconnected courtyards and amphitheater; a university forum that incorporates a museum, theater and gallery; and open spaces and greenery,” an article posted on CLI’s website said.

The one-page resolution, numbered 2022-033, series of 2022, was signed by Edwin Micabani, Balulang village’s chairperson, and Abigail Mae Saluna, the council secretary, last January 20, 2022.

Myrna Marban, Balulang council member, said majority of the village councilors were not aware of the resolution until Gemma Pabayo, a member of the Concerned Parents, Teachers, Alumni and Communities (Coptac), showed them a copy of the document during a previous public hearing.

Coptac has been vocal in raising issues about the development plan that would have an impact on the residents living below and outside the proposed project.

“We have not signed it, the majority of us. It was not discussed during our session. That’s why we were shocked when we found out about it,” Marban said during a public hearing organized by the region’s Environmental Management Bureau (EMB-10) at the Manresa compound Monday, October 17, 2022.

Lawyer Eddie Cuaresma, legal counsel for Coptac, said during the public hearing that the resolution is “null and void” as it was denied by five Balulang councilors.

EMB-10’s lawyer Abbas Lao, who acted as the moderator during the public hearing, said the allegation made by Marban “needs to be validated”.

“If that is true that it was issued by the barangay [official] without the participation of the barangay kagawads, that is the accountability of the barangay chairman; we will validate that,” Lao added.

Gemma Pabayo, a Coptac member, noted that all entities involved in the proposed project must adhere to the proper procedure and that all transactions must be transparent and above board.

“I am not against development, but I am for the rule of law. There should be no shortcuts. The process is flawed and yet this has not been noticed by officials and employees of government agencies,” Pabayo said.

Like Pabayo, Marban clarified that they are not against development project but are “proud” of it.

Potential risks

“This is a huge project, world-class, but people have questions, just like what happened to Bugo,” she said, referring to the flashflood that inundated Bugo village on October 16, 2022, which killed one person and displaced hundreds of families.

Marban also cited a geohazard identification survey conducted March 17-18, 2022 by the Mines and Geosciences Bureau-10 (MGB-10) on the proposed site, stating the potential geologic hazards the project may pose.

The study mentioned the “mass movement”, explaining the steep slope running along the eastern portion of the property is highly susceptible to landslide.

Mass movement is defined as the processes of erosion, transport, and accumulation of material that occur on both gentle and steep slopes mainly owing to gravitational forces.

“This is especially concerning considering that the area is underlain by the Cagayan Terrace Gravel – a deposit which is only semi-compacted and slightly consolidated. Additional load imposed by structures to be erected on the site may increase the risk of mass movement,” the MGB-10 study said.

Another issue discussed in the survey is on flooding where the development of the site will inadvertently lead to lesser ground percolation of rainwater, thus increasing surface runoff.

“The increased runoff may exacerbate the flooding woes on the low-lying areas of Barangay Carmen and Barangay Balulang unless water is drained properly,” it added.

Domingo Salas, a Balulang resident whose family lives below the Manresa complex, said where there is development, there should also be an environmental balance.

“The residents must also be protected. We are also humans who are living here in Barangay Balulang,” he said.

Salas said he and his neighbors are apprehensive about the plan to build structures on the proposed site.

“We are worried of the plan to construct high-rise buildings. We have already experienced soil erosion, landslide, and flooding before this plan is realized, how much more when they are already built?” he added.

Salas said if the developer proceeds with the development, they must first come up with a solution to these problems that beset the residents.

“As of now, Upper Balulang has no proper drainage and it tends to flood on our community whenever there is a one or two-hour rain. We want them to address it. It’s so easy to build structures, but we are the ones affected,” he added. (

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