June 23, 2024

Arch. Donna Tabangin, head of the City Planning and Development Office (CPDO), presented to city officials a development framework that is meant to save Baguio City from urban decay which, if neglected, would be irreversible by 2043.

In the development framework, there are three major considerations the city government needs to heed in updating and implementing the city’s Comprehensive Development Plan (CDP) and the Comprehensive Land Use Plan (CLUP).

The first consideration is environmental ceiling. Tabangin said all the city government’s programs, projects, and activities (PPAs) should gear towards environmental protection and conservation.

Earlier, Tabangin presented to the city officials the study conducted by the National Economic and Development Authority projecting the exponential growth of the population in the city against its environmental carrying capacity.

Before the Covid-19 pandemic (2018-2019), the city had a daytime population of 650,000 and a night time population of 378,000 while a whopping 1,536,458 was recorded yearly taking into account visitors during the city’s peak tourist season.

The city’s population will exceed the 600,000 mark by 2043 as projected by NEDA’s study.

Based on the study, the city’s escalating population through the decades has already breached the thresholds for its environmental carrying capacity a long time ago. 

To have a desirable and decent living condition based on the standards set by the United Nations/other Asian countries/national agencies, an individual is entitled to have 110 square meters land for settlement/development and a 0.15 cubic meters water supply per day.

Twenty sqm is allotted per person for open spaces; 40 sqm per person for urban roads; 80 sqm per person for green covers; and 40 sqm per person for forest covers.

Moreover, a limit of 0.03m3 liquid waste treatment is set for each person per day and a limit of 0.24 metric tons collected solid waste for each person per year.

The NEDA study reveals all of these set standards have been getting compromised in Baguio City since 2010 (lands for development), 2002 (water supply), 2008 (open spaces), 1988 (urban roads), 2016 (green covers), 2012 (forest covers), 2007 (liquid waste treatment), and 1994 (collected solid waste).

Tabangin, however, said it is not too late to act and put into place mitigating measures as the city officials and the citizens work together in solving environmental problems and the errors of urban planning.

The second consideration is economic interests. Urbanization and development, according to Tabangin, should also have limits.

“Land is a major resource in economic development. Therefore, our economic interests should also have limitations. The city needs to set limits on urbanization and development,” she stated.

The third consideration is social foundation which Tabangin described as the most important among the three. Social foundation refers to the city government’s effort to attain growth and poverty reduction. She said the ultimate goal is to reduce poverty in order that people in the community will have a better quality of life and access to economic opportunities. 

Tabangin said the system should be “equal, equitable, and humanitarian.”

“Sana walang mapapahirapan, at sana hindi makakalimutan ‘yung mga nasa laylayan. If we develop this framework and incorporate it in our CDP and CLUP, we would have a better Baguio by 2043, solving that urban decay,” Tabangin said. 

Alongside the development framework is a recovery and resiliency plan developed by the CPDO in collaboration with the city council and different stakeholders in the city.

There are three time periods under the recovery and resiliency plan. These are continuity phase, transition phase, and sustainable recovery phase.

Under the continuity phase are plans that are short-term which can be attained in one to two years. These plans are prioritizing public health and well-being; re-starting the economy; rejuvenating the environment and enhancing risk reduction; and enhancing education, arts, and culture.

Under the transition phase are medium-term plans that are attainable in three to five years. These are developing more diversified economic opportunities; improving urban mobility and infrastructure; and developing more housing options.

The last phase is the sustainable recovery phase. Under it are long-term plans that can be attained in six years or onwards. These are sustaining improvement; and transforming Baguio City to an inclusive, resilient, smart, and sustainable city.  Tabangin emphasized the value of collaboration. She stressed city government offices, with the help of the national agencies and the private sector, should work together and share their resources in order to optimize the PPAs being proposed and implemented. – Jordan G. Habbiling