NEWS
Abra
Benguet
Ifugao
Kalinga
 
OPINION
 
 
Other Links:

BLISTT: Transforming distrust to mutual cooperation
by Harley F. Palangchao

If Malacañang is serious in its bid to preserve Baguio City and Boracay, funding the implementation of the conceptual development framework, which could save this mountain resort from urban decay, can be the answer.  This framework will spread socio-economic activities from Baguio to the outlying towns of Benguet.

This will entail Baguio taking the bold step of encouraging business and commercial expansions not in its territorial jurisdiction but to the outlying Benguet towns in an area now known as the BLISTT.

The BLISTT was initially the vision of urban planner and former head of the City Planning Office, Architect Joseph Alabanza, after the killer earthquake of 1990 devastated the city. Alabanza said real development would mean a cooperative work among neighboring municipalities. This is because resources like water and air know no boundaries. Roads don’t reach dead-end at the point of political boundaries too. Rather, a necklace framework connecting municipalities will complement and harness the strengths of each town and help strengthen them where it is weak.

 BLISTT was first planned as BLIST and while it lay dormant in the following years, adding Tublay as the other T in the concept was agreed on.

But the concept remained an archival document for more than a decade and started getting revived, as the necessity of such a plan was made urgent by the worsening symptoms of urban decay.

For  one, there was the Irisan garbage. Then the continuing protests against tree cutting. There was the dangling promise of travel convenience should the circumferential road continuing on to the municipalities be realized. In tourism, the idea of Baguio being the home base for accommodations as visitors venture into sports adventure in Benguet made sense. Educational institutions also need to establish into neighboring towns to decongest traffic in the city.

 “There is no doubt that the people of Benguet and its officials will support the implementation of the BLISTT under the concept of mutual cooperation and benefits. Besides, Benguet acknowledges the need to decongest Baguio from its current state,” said Gov. Nestor Fongwan.

The governor said he sees no reason why Benguet should distance itself from the long-time plan to implement the BLISTT concept if after all it will mean economic progress for La Trinidad, Itogon, Sablan, Tuba, and Tublay where the concept makes them potential sites for commercial, educational, information, and technology centers. Initially, hesitation was due to the worry of becoming merely the receiving end of Baguio’s problem on solid waste. Water was also a major issue.

The BLISTT master development plan, Fongwan said, should indicate the specific roles each of the outlying town in Benguet will play to ensure the success of the plan. There should be a consensus on where educational institutions can expand, mining and gold trade activities can proceed, where housing development should be established, and other socio- economic opportunities should be done. The potentials for growth and development are stimulating, and where trust that it is an overall win-win solution becomes the key to success.
“A commercial zoning should be indicated in the master development plan so that each town has specific roles to play to ensure the success of the BLISTT,” the governor added.
 
Courting Benguet towns
 
Fongwan’s stand has the support of Baguio City Mayor Mauricio Domogan who admitted this city is facing an uphill bid in changing the perception that only the city stands to benefit from BLISTT.

“It’s not correct that only Baguio will benefit from BLISTT. In fact, Benguet is the most viable expansion areas for commerce and trade and even for educational institutions and the real estate sector, whether we like it or not,” he said.

“With Baguio aiming to decongest not only the central business district but also the city itself, it is inevitable that towns covered by BLISTT will soon be developed and improved from their current situations,” the mayor added.

True enough, the volume of people and structures have gone way beyond Baguio’s 57 square-kilometer land area carrying capacity.

A study by the regional Population Commission, in coordination with the United Nations Population Fund, revealed that the number of people per square kilometer in Baguio is 4,389, or 17 times higher than the national average.

The study added Baguio is one of the key cities outside Metro Manila where there is a high demand for decent housing.
 
Template for city development
 
In citing reasons that Benguet can use the BLISTT to convince Malacañang to fund critical projects, Domogan said Baguio used the original BLIST concept in asking for a huge funding for the recently concluded Baguio Circumferential Road.

The Baguio Circumferential Road Project, which started during the term of former President Fidel V. Ramos, was conceived to decongest the concentration of activities within the city’s central business district.

With the project’s completion, socio-economic activities will peak while increasing too the zonal value of lots traversed by the circuit road.

Domogan said Baguio’s success in convincing the Palace to fund the circumferential road could be duplicated to connect the outlying towns of Benguet.

The ongoing rehabilitation of the Ambiong to Tawang Road in La Trinidad can be expanded into a BLISTT circumferential road to connect the capital town to other towns aside from the existing Naguilian Road, Kennon Road, Marcos Highway, and Halsema Highway.

Benguet Rep. Ronald Cosalan, who is also the chair of the Lower House committee on public works, is likewise pushing for a circumferential road, which he claimed can be integrated into the BLISTT plan.

Cosalan and newly elected Baguio Rep. Nicasio Aliping Jr., vowed support for the ongoing talks on BLISTT among local chief executives in the two localities, together with the directors of concerned regional line agencies.
 
Revived BLISTT talks
 
Last month, the Cordillera Regional Development Council convened the first development council meeting with all BLISTT mayors in attendance.

Also present were officials of the National Economic Development Authority, the regional Department of Interior and Local Government, Department of the Interior and Local Government of Baguio and Benguet and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

The meeting centered on the memorandum of agreement (MOA) signed in July 2012, which charts the BLISTT heads’ roles in the implementation of the development framework aiming to make the BLISTT a “model regional growth center.”

Following the meeting on August 5, the mayors agreed to present the MOA to the BLISTT’s legislators and public and private organizations to gather inputs on the avenues of cooperation that the BLISTT may pursue.

After the consultations, the BLISTT’s legislators will soon authorize their respective mayors to craft a supposedly improved MOA for implementation.

The second talk was scheduled to take place on August 23 with La Trinidad Mayor Edna Tabanda and the council as host but it was postponed to a later date.

It is expected that the incumbent local chief executives covered by the BLISTT will also elect the BLISTT Governing Council, which will later determine how much should be the contribution of each LGU and where the contributions will be spent to keep the momentum going.
 
Palace support needed
 
Malacañang’s support to the BLISTT in terms of funding and technical assistance could be a possible turning point in the Aquino government’s bid to preserve Baguio and Boracay.

This, as just like what President Benigno Aquino III has envisioned for Baguio and Boracay, can spare the city from more woes brought on by rapid growth, too much commercialization, and lack of a comprehensive development and zoning plan as this will ensure that the BLISTT plan will attract investors and expansion of trade and commerce no longer in the city but in Benguet.

Aquino, in his Memorandum Circular 47 series of 2013, has enjoined all departments, agencies and agents of the national and local government units to actively support the Technical Working Group on the preparation of comprehensive plans and programs to preserve Baguio and Boracay.

The President has directed the secretaries of Tourism, Environment and Natural Resources, Interior and Local Government and Justice to constitute the Technical Working Group to be tasked to review the environmental, commercial, tourism and law and order situation of the two places as basis in coming out with plans.

This city, considered as a national asset by Malacañang, has no more room for expansion in trade and commerce, as it can no longer afford to allow the destruction of its remaining green patches for more concrete structures.

Baguio, time and again, has been warned that it must take serious steps to address “urban sprawl,” which was described by Alabanza as the “pattern and pace of land development in which the rate of land consumed for urban purposes exceeds the rate of population growth and which results in an inefficient and consumptive use of land and its associated resources.
Back in 2010, the DENR-CAR reported only 20 percent of the total land area remains as Baguio’s forest cover.

All told, the fate of the BLISTT plan, which remains to be in the drawing board for almost two decades, now, lies on the future talks of the leaders and agencies and depends on their capability to get Malacañang’s support.
Other news
:: Random thoughts on BLISTT
:: The BLISTT: As some others see it
:: Why BLISTT?
:: Beyond Boundaries: Realizing the potentials of a public-private partnership in 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
:: Local resources, global directions in the service of the CICM Mission
:: Making BLISTT work

Department of Social Welfare and Development
SiTEL
University of Baguio

Baguio Central University
Baguio City Council
Lepanto Consolidated Mining Company
Mayor Mauricio G. Domogan
MMS Development Traning Center Corporation
National Grid Corporation of the Philippines
Philex Mining Corporation
Pines City Colleges
Sangguniang Panlalawigan – Province of Benguet
Skycable
Sutherland Global Services
The Office of Civil Defense – Cordillera
TI (Philippines), Inc.
University of the Cordilleras
University of the Philippines – Baguio

Ahead Tutorial and Review
Assumption Medical Diagnostic Center, Inc.
Baguio City Police Office
Baguio General Hospital and Medical Center
Baguio Heart and Lung Diagnostic Center, Inc.
Baguio Memorial Chapels, Inc.
Baguio Water District
Benguet State University
BSBT College, Inc.
Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources
Bureau of Internal Revenue – CAR
Bureau of Jail Management and Penology – CAR
Citylight Hotel
Commission on Higher Education – CAR
Congressman Maximo B. Dalog
Congressman Ronald M. Cosalan
Crown Legacy Hotel
Department of Agrarian Reform – CAR
Department of Agriculture – CAR
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
Easter College
Fabulo Beauty and Image Salon
Far East Pacific Commerical
Filipino–Japanese Foundation of Northern Luzon, Inc.
Fortune (Hong Kong) Seafood Restaurant
Fox International Immigration and Visa Provider
GMS Technology
Governor Leonard G. Mayaen
Governor Nestor B. Fongwan
Hotel Elizabeth
Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board – Northern Luzon Region
Kalapaw Restaurant
La Funeraria Paz, Inc.
Le Conservatoire De Danse De Ballet
Mother Earth Deli Basket
Municipality of La Trinidad
Overseas Workers Welfare Administration – CAR
Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company
Regional Development Council – CAR and National Economic and Development Authority – CAR
Technical Education and Skills Development Authority – CAR
WINACA / Narda’s

 



Home | About Us | Editorial Policy | Contact Us
News | Opinion | Snapshots | Week's Mail | Obituaries
Copyright © 2007. All Rights Reserved. baguiomidlandcourier.com.ph