December 10, 2022

The bill seeking to revise the more than 100-year-old Baguio City charter is now on its final stages after the Senate Committee on Local Government started discussions aimed at fine-tuning some of the measure’s provisions.

The technical working group of the Senate Committee on Local Government chaired by Sen. Francis Tolentino met with city officials led by Rep. Mark Go and Mayor Benjamin Magalong and representatives of national government line agencies on June 21 in Baguio to polish and reconcile some of the conflicting provisions of Senate Bill 2163 authored by Sen. Imee Marcos and House Bill 8882 authored by Go and Kalinga Rep. Allen Jesse Mangaoang both entitled An Act Revising the Charter of the City of Baguio.

The Senate body early this month approved SB 2163, subject to refinement by the TWG of the provisions on naming of city officials, boards and councils, territorial boundaries, Camp John Hay reservation, and the contentious issues on ancestral lands, among other things.

Tolentino said the TWG aims to craft unified provisions in a manner that will address the intents of the bills’ authors.

He said the committee hopes this process will produce provisions that will address not just the present problems and issues of the city but also those that will crop up in the future.

“It is an advantage as well as a challenge to try to revise a city’s charter. You are doing something that has not been done before. Revisions should address issues in the future. The challenge is we have to make sure that we come up with a revised charter that addresses things and conditions not just five years from now, but applicable 100 years from now,” Tolentino said.

Go said the earlier intent to revise the city’s charter had been approved by both chambers of the Congress previously, but it was vetoed by the President who wanted to correct certain provisions.

He said revisions were incorporated in the recent proposed versions and hopes it will be approved this time.

The city council also submitted inputs to the TWG for inclusion in the measure’s final draft.

Another round of consultation is set this week to finalize the substitute bill. – Hanna C. Lacsamana