■ Jane B. Cadalig
The supposed most sophisticated command center in the Cordillera, touted as the leading innovation to inspire good governance among other local government units, has defaulted in paying its electricity bills for more than a year.
The Baguio City council approved the allocation of more than P200,000 from the 2023 funds of the Smart City Command Center located at the Baguio Convention and Cultural Center to pay the unsettled electricity bills incurred by the platform’s devices from August 2021 to December 2022.
In Ordinance 113 s. 2023, passed during the special session on Dec. 15 last year, the council approved the request of Mayor Benjamin Magalong to charge P201,304 against the 2023 appropriations of the Smart City Command Center.
The command center, which is being supervised by the Management Information and Technology Division, incurred the bills from the electricity consumption of the platform’s IoT boxes or the device that contains networks connecting and exchanging data with other devices on the Internet, closed-circuit television cameras, and air quality monitoring devices. The devices are installed in various parts of the city.
As detailed in the ordinance, the unpaid electricity bills, as billed by Benguet Electric Cooperative, were incurred starting August 2021 amounting to P6,928.99. The bill in September that year amounted to P11,850.92; October, P11,738.74; November, P11,292.11; and December, P11,863.10.
In 2022, the command center’s obligation totaled P147,630.14 starting January to December. The amount reflected on the bills varied each month.
The appropriation ordinance stated the Local Finance Committee has certified the availability of funds to cover the P201,304 unsettled electricity bills.
The amount was allotted from the P2,177,481.57 that was appropriated for electricity expenses under the City Mayor’s Office-Early Warning and Surveillance System.
On recommendation of the committee on appropriations and finance Cluster A (Budget, Appropriations, Expenditures), Ordinance 113 s. 2023 was approved on first reading, dispensing with the second and third readings.
The command center was funded from the P200 million assistance from the Office of then President Rodrigo Duterte and was inaugurated in 2021.
The first of its kind in the country, that command hub boasts of a feature on big-data analytics that allows the city government to identify, analyze, monitor, and swiftly address various concerns such as traffic as well as in managing other aspects like tourism, disaster risk reduction, and the environment.
The Department of the Interior and Local Government regarded the city’s Smart City Command Center as a leading innovation that will continuously inspire LGUs in upscaling their digital governance technology.