July 21, 2024

The Baguio City Council committee on laws, human rights, and justice has laid the groundwork for the extensive review of Republic Act 11689 or the Revised Baguio City Charter. 
Councilor Peter Fianza, chairperson of the committee, said the first step is to conduct a massive information dissemination campaign to get the public involved in the endeavor.
He said it is important to let stakeholders understand the need to thoroughly examine the provisions of RA 11689, which lapsed into law on April 11. 
Different stakeholders including members in the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, barangay officials, indigenous peoples groups in the city, and scholars in the academe will be furnished copies of the Revised City Charter.
They will be advised to write their position papers to be consolidated and studied by the city council. A series of consultations will also be held to solicit public opinion.
Joining Fianza in the preliminary meeting were councilors Jose Molintas, Fred Bagbagen, Elmer Datuin, Arthur Allad-iw, and Mylen Victoria Yaranon who expressed willingness to be part of the working group tasked to facilitate the public consultations and the consolidation of people’s comments and suggestions.
This is part of the effort of the city council to correct certain provisions of the Revised City Charter after its failed attempt to convince former President Rodrigo Duterte to veto the bill.
In its resolution requesting for the veto on House Bill 8882, the city council enumerated some critical points.
The resolution pointed out the ambiguity of the territorial boundaries of the city as indicated in Section 3 of the bill. It claimed that this section does not indicate the exact metes and bounds of the City of Baguio which is supposed to be a vital provision of the city charter.
It said there is a need to include a provision in the charter containing the definite metes and bounds of the city, taking into consideration the city’s land disputes with the adjoining municipalities.
The resolution also assailed the bill for stating that the sales shall go to the coffers of the national government.
Under the original city charter, the said proceeds shall be remitted to the City Treasury Office to finance the A.O 504 Clearing Committee for the processing of clearances of applications for land titling.
Likewise, the resolution claimed the bill would undermine Resolution 362-1994 which contains the 19 conditions set by the city government in the formulation of the master development plan for Camp John Hay to be complied with by the Bases Conversion Development Authority.
The resolution also asserted a plebiscite must be conducted to involve the people of Baguio City, considering that the revisions are substantial.
The resolution also raised concern on the “discrepancy” between the new city charter and the Bases Conversion and Development Act of 1992 on the area of the Camp John Hay Reservation.
The councilors said another concern that needs to be addressed is the issue on ancestral lands and ancestral domains in the city.
Earlier, the city council urged the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples-Cordillera to examine revised charter and find out whether its provisions support the processing of ancestral land titles in the city or “erase” the rights of the indigenous peoples to their ancestral domain. 
The schedule for the first official public consultation will be announced soon. – Jordan G. Habbiling