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Beyond Boundaries: Realizing the potentials of a public-private partnership in BLISTT
by Rimaliza A. Opiña

On Aug. 15, officials of Baguio, La Trinidad, Itogon, Sablan, Tuba, and Tublay met anew to discuss the development framework for these areas, which, more than 20 years after its conceptualization, has not taken off.

A few months short before recently-elected officials will reach their 100 days in office, that meeting of local chief executives – a mix of long time, comebacking, and new officials showed renewed efforts to realize the plan. The latest meeting expanded the composition of policymakers, which now included the departments of Tourism, Public Works and Highways, and Trade and Industry, among others.

National Economic Development Authority Regional Director Milagros Rimando is positive this time, the “concept” will turn into reality.

She debunked reports that Baguio’s neighbors are lukewarm about the idea for fear they will only shoulder the city’s burdens and none of the benefits enjoyed by their “urbanized” brother.

Rimando said past and present leaders of LISTT have always been receptive about the concept of the spreading growth outside the boundaries of Baguio but changes in leadership resulted in a stalemate.

However, this did not prevent the local chief executives from meeting again. Rimando said the present administration’s thrust on strengthening partnership with the private sector via the concept called public-private partnership (PPP) just might be the backbone that would firm up the plan.

Latest talks

Rimando said the 2009 memorandum of agreement, which then included Tublay as the newest member of the BLIST will be revised to include a governing body – a policy making group that would monitor, evaluate, and set the stage for the plan’s realization, among the myriad of functions that it will be undertaking.

The governing body would also hopefully provide continuity even beyond term limits.

As “talking points” have been agreed upon, Rimando said for the rest of the year, members of the group have been told to identify projects that can qualify under the PPP.

Given the vast land area within the BLISTT, Rimando said there are many projects that can qualify under the PPP.

Potential PPP ventures within the BLISTT include solid waste management, mini and large dams, road network development, satellite markets, malls, and central terminals.

Long before the President began espousing PPP to propel the country’s economy, authors of the BLISTT has already suggested partnership with the private sector to help realize suggested projects that otherwise would be difficult if the government were to spend for them alone.

Implementation of the development framework is divided into three phases. The first is from 1995 to 2000, the second phase is from 2001 to 2010, and the final phase is from 2011 to 2020. 


Former investment banker Alfredo Yñiguez III said for the concept to work, policymakers should focus on the strengths of the BLISTT.

Now an executive of the Camp John Hay Development Corporation, Yñiguez said as Baguio remains the commercial center, towns around the city could capitalize on its land resources particularly by strengthening the agriculture sector.

He said agriculture complements Baguio City’s commercial environment. He said at present, one of the investors in Camp John Hay, a French-Canadian coffee manufacturing company, has tapped the services of farmers in Tublay for the propagation of coffee beans.

In the 1990 BLISTT development framework prepared by a private research group and the NEDA and funded by the European Union, Baguio City and La Trinidad were identified as the “commercial centers” of the BLISTT.

The research said since developments are already concentrated in Baguio, the city will serve as take-off point in many fields but mainly on tourism, health, and housing then spread to neighboring municipalities, beginning with the “western link.”

With the vegetable Trading Post already in place, La Trinidad would serve as the agro-industrial, marketing, and distribution center. In the framework, growth of industries in Baguio will be restricted, allowing new or expanding investments to extend to La Trinidad.

“Future commercial and industrial provision in Baguio will be restricted to allow the bulk of provision to be located in La Trinidad and other new development areas. It is intended that the roles of Baguio and La Trinidad will diverge and become more sharply defined: Baguio would concentrate on providing a conducive environment for a tourist and service center; La Trinidad would become more of an industrial/wholesaling area based predominantly on the export potential of agricultural products,” a portion of the over 100-page study probably sums up the BLISTT plan.

“Increase the attractiveness of La Trinidad and other new centers in urban BLIST as compared to Baguio. In this way the strong centrality of Baguio and the associated pressures on land, utilities, and infrastructure will be controlled.”

Tuba, on the other hand, will host expansion from the Loakan area, including housing. Sablan and Itogon will be developed into eco-tourism destinations as well as Tublay as embodied in the 2009 revised framework.

This plan however does not mean no development will take place in Baguio. The research stated, improvement will continue at a limited scale in Camp John Hay.

Educational institutions

Schools are natural magnets for economic activities. The idea of building schools outside Baguio City’s business district has proven to be effective.

Albeit the location remains to be in Baguio City, the plan has proven decentralization does not necessarily translate to a slump in economic activities in campus belts.

With the increasing need to accommodate facilities such as laboratories that often require a lot of space, the BLIST planners have long ago suggested for the identification of properties outside the Baguio City and La Trinidad business districts, which, in the future could be used as expansion areas specifically of secondary high schools. The research said the expansion could be in Tuba.

At present, several private and public schools have been established in the barangays, most however were undertaken separately by those in the public and private sector, and is still concentrated in Baguio City, and remains on a limited scale because of land and financial issues, Rimando said.

For Baguio City Rep. Nicasio Aliping, his proposal to convert a high school in Irisan into a technical-vocational school and a city college are potential PPP ventures. However, instead of implementing this under the umbrella of the NEDA, the solon suggested for the members of the BLISTT to consider the possibility of converting into a “metro-BLISTT authority” following the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority.

“The MOA is not enough. An enabling law might help in the implementation,” Ali-ping said.


Urbanization in Baguio and later in La Trinidad has given rise to the increase of economic activities necessitating the use of motor vehicles to facilitate transportation. Traffic congestion has then been identified as an emerging and will be a lingering problem if unattended.

For Baguio, the BLISTT planners said there should be a system that incorporates short and long-term parking system to be enforced by a parking control office. The planners said the parking policy should be self-financing.

A pay parking policy is not a new concept in the case of Baguio. In early 2000, it partnered with a private firm designated to enforce parking regulations and collect fees for the same on a sharing scheme with the city government.

The “partnership” lasted only a few years after vehicle owners protested the operation of the parking firm on public roads.

But Rimando said the Baguio experience should not prevent surrounding towns from adopting a mechanism that would put order in traffic movement and road use.

In the BLISTT plan, it was suggested that a bus terminal be located outside the business center. A proposed overnight parking facility was also suggested for La Trinidad.

Development of secondary roads under a PPP venture would also help in decongesting main arteries in the business district, Rimando added.


Notwithstanding the present problems Baguio City is encountering with the planned privatization of the Asin mini hydro power plant, Rimando said dams are potential PPP projects in the BLISTT.

When the city government took over the Asin mini hydro plants in 2007, privatization has long been planned largely because of the city’s lack of expertise in the management of a highly technical industry.

Last year, the management and operation of the power plants has been bid out. It failed twice due to restrictive requirements. The power plants also ceased operations pending the issuance of permits from the Energy Regulatory Commission.


With the construction of roads, travel time to the commercial and business centers is made faster and commercial activities would have sprouted in areas where there is less density, the BLISTT planners foresaw.

With the expansion, it said housing sites could be built in areas that topographically, could accommodate houses and other residential dwellings.

The planners suggested that to entice the private sector to invest, government should consider expropriation of idle properties or enter into an agreement with landowners for the use of their land in exchange for a certain amount.

Tourism and shopping centers

BLIST planners have observed there are other destinations outside Baguio City. They have in fact recommended for the conduct of a BLIST-wide study to identify and develop attractions outside of the city such as the West Itogon Countryside Park, Asin Hotspring, and a range of unpublicized sites in Sablan.

Fast forward to 2009 with Tublay already included, the Asin hot spring is now a top local destination, and caves in Tuba and Tublay are being promoted as ecotourist destinations. In Itogon, Mt. Ugo is now famous for long-distance running events.

In the BLIST framework, the tourism plan included promotion of Baguio as a short-stay destination center and a staging post for cultural and ecotourism trips not only for its neighbors, but for Cordillera in general. Tour operators will also be tapped for the marketing of the BLIST as “beach-cultural” destination by linking beach destinations in Region I and eco and cultural destinations in the Cordillera.

To provide a continuity of an ecological destination, the framers suggested for the provision of “urban trails” in Baguio, which are separated from traffic and would form a natural extension from Burnham Park.

With rapid urbanization, future individual or area tourist development meanwhile will be limited in scale appropriate for its environmental setting, demand on existing and proposed utilities, infrastructure, and its impact on the local and regional economy.


High suspicion among local officials that LISTT will only be handling the “overflow” of Baguio remains although local leaders are open to sharing with their neighbors. 

Philippine Councilors League-Sablan president Leo Lawana clearly explained in a radio guesting that Baguio City’s little brother has to be assured that it will also be benefiting from the proposal.

But the political issue is only one among the many problems that planners would possibly encounter. The framers of the plan have acknowledged this early in the study.

“It is necessary to undertake advanced planning to prepare for the implementation of future projects,” the framers said.

Financial matters were also identified as a hindrance in the full realization of the plan. It suggested for all LGUs to increase revenue generation and to enter into borrowing and other credit agreements to finance capital investment.

Increasing taxes will surely be met with resistance the planners said but this has to be maximized to realize the plan. They said LGUs should not depend on local taxes and shares from internal revenue allotment alone.

It was also suggested for LGUs to try financing opportunities such as privatization of some services, PPP, build-operate-transfer agreements, tapping of non-government and private voluntary organizations, joint LGU development venture, and loans.

Consultation and information in the barangays is also integral in making the project successful, Rimando said.
Other news
:: Random thoughts on BLISTT
:: The BLISTT: As some others see it
:: Why BLISTT?
:: Do we need a big brother in BLISTT?
:: Andebok, a foundational site in Baguio’s political history
:: The need for a legislative response to the BLISTT framework
:: BSU’s role in the development of BLISTT
:: BLISTT: Transforming distrust to mutual cooperation
:: Local resources, global directions in the service of the CICM Mission
:: Making BLISTT work

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Baguio City Council
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MMS Development Traning Center Corporation
National Grid Corporation of the Philippines
Philex Mining Corporation
Pines City Colleges
Sangguniang Panlalawigan – Province of Benguet
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TI (Philippines), Inc.
University of the Cordilleras
University of the Philippines – Baguio

Ahead Tutorial and Review
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Baguio General Hospital and Medical Center
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BSBT College, Inc.
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Bureau of Internal Revenue – CAR
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Commission on Higher Education – CAR
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Department of Agrarian Reform – CAR
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Department of Education – CAR
Department of Environment and Natural Resources – CAR
Department of Interior and Local Government
Department of Science and Technology
Department of Tourism
Department of Trade and Industry
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Technical Education and Skills Development Authority – CAR
WINACA / Narda’s


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