November 28, 2022

On the occasion of its 113th Charter Day anniversary, the city government of Baguio is at a crossroad if it would seriously strike a balance between allowing more development projects within tree stands and protecting the remaining urban forest covers due to serious threats posed by urban decay.

Studies show only less than 30 percent of the city’s land area of 57.51 square kilometers are forest covers while the ideal number of people per square kilometer in this city has surpassed its limit years ago.

In countless occasions, past and current officials have vowed to arrest urban decay that poses serious threats not only to the city’s supposed balanced ecology, but also to the quality of life of residents in the future.

But nothing significant has been achieved in arresting urban decay, as commercial and residential structures continue to rise on government and private lots while the city also faces serious concerns on solid waste management, unabated encroachment of watersheds, and looming water shortage in the nearest future, which concerned public utility officials do not want to publicly admit as of this time.

Will Republic Act 11932, or the law creating the Metropolitan Baguio, La Trinidad, Itogon, Sablan, Tuba, and Tublay Development Authority, be the answer to issues and concerns related to urban development, health, and environment?

It is too early to tell but the wisdom of the new law authored by Baguio Rep. Mark Go aims to address the persistent calls for experts from various fields for officials of concerned local government units to sit down together and tackle these issues collectively, plan, and address them in a holistic and inclusive manner so that no LGU must be left behind.

It is our hope that the old mindset of some LGUs that only Baguio stands to benefit from the creation of the MBLISTTDA has already changed, as the outlying towns of Benguet will be assertive in pushing what is good for them and their people.

But we support the call from concerned quarters that the new law be scrutinized further so that amendments on questionable provisions be made, owing to lack of public consultation when the proposed bill was filed in the 18th Congress.

Numerous experts have reached out to City Hall, offering their ideas on how the city will address urban decay, but reality is that, those in power or position thought they have the monopoly of great ideas, which calls for a change in mindset among our city leaders.

In this special supplement, the Courier through its editorial staff and commissioned writers have presented stories and images on urban decay with several reminders on how this city will address these mammoth of issues and concerns as marks its 113th charter anniversary on Sept. 1, the day when her forefathers laid the corner stone of a community that has become a model highly-urbanized city. But not for long if nothing is done to arrest urban decay.

It is our hope too, the current local administration that fervently advocates for “good governance beyond politics” will promote projects and programs towards a better Baguio after it acknowledged to have been awakened by an inconvenient truth.

The city’s chief executive has acknowledged in his inaugural speech, “it is about time that we need to change the old mindset of doing things because if we are not going to act now, urban decay will be irreversible.”

Past chief executives had their share of problems on urban decay, which has worsened through the years in spite of the supposed interventions and solutions that required huge fundings. Yet the problems remain.

As a reminder, it has been proven that any damage to the environment is theoretically irreversible and no amount of money would ever bring back the city’s old grandeur.