A tale of two provinces: Who owns Bucarot?

LAOAG CITY — Leaders come and go but as of today, residents in Sitio Bucarot in Adams town, a far-flung mountainous area inhabited by the Isnag tribe, remain confused on which province they belong to.

On Friday, January 19, the Sangguniang Panlalawigan (SP) of Ilocos Norte conducted an out of capitol session in Sitio Bucarot, the remotest portion of this town that is also being claimed by the neighboring municipality of Calanasan in Apayao province.

Since 2005 or for about 12 years now, Sitio Bucarot has remained a disputed area between the municipalities of Adams and Calanasan.

Residents here have two barangay halls, two basketball courts, and two primary schools, built separately by the two contending municipalities for its people.

Adams Mayor Rosalia Dupagen said she inherited this unresolved issue from her predecessors.

She hopes the visit of SP members in the area would reignite their desire to reopen the issue and do something to settle the old boundary dispute.

Earlier, the slow resolution of the case as admitted by the Ilocos Norte board, was mainly due to the reported failure of the Apayao government to respond every time a meeting was set to hear the case.

Sitio Bucarot is far from Adams town proper and there is no access road going to the area, which has forced residents to travel to Calanasan, Apayao to buy their basic needs and services.

According to the locals, going to Sitio Bucarot takes about three hours to hike or even up to six hours for non-residents.

With this development, Adams officials related that the Calanasan local government had reportedly taken advantage of the situation, as the town mayor appointed several local officials in the area and even funded several infrastructure projects in the sitio, including building an access road to Calanasan, a Day Care Center, and an elementary school complete from Grades 1-6.

As this developed, a draft resolution was unanimously passed by the Ilocos Norte board calling for a joint session with the new SP members in Apayao.

A similar resolution was passed in 2014, but the Apayao board did not heed the request.

According to Provincial Board member Vicentitio Lazo, the long-dragging boundary dispute between Ilocos Norte and Apayao over Sitio Bucarot has fueled a stalemate between the two provinces, hence, the need for a resolution through amicable or legal means to avoid unwarranted repercussions. PNA-northboundasia.com