December 5, 2022

The plan to merge Baguio’s 129 barangays into less than 50 got a boost with the National Barangay Operations Office (NBOO) of the Department of the Interior and Local Government supporting the city government’s pursuit to consolidate the long-shelved plan to its barangays.
The NBOO said merged barangays will receive a bigger share from the national tax allotment (formerly internal revenue allotment) considering the total number of barangays will be reduced.
Newly-created barangays could also save from the reduced cost of personal services, which can be used for new plans, programs, and activities, the NBOO added.
“With the current situation, it may be worthy to consider the status of all these barangays if they can cope with the developmental needs for the betterment of the constituents. As such, there may be a need to consider the initiative of merging of the 129 barangays,” NBOO Director IV Dennis Villaseñor said in his letter dated Oct. 20 to Mayor Benjamin Magalong.
Citing the 2020 data of the Philippine Statistics Authority, it shows that of the 129 barangays, only 15 has a population of between 5,001 to 15,000; one with over 15,000; 35 with between 2,001 to 5,000; 66 with between 501 to 2,000; eight with below 500; and four with less than 100.
From the data, the NBOO said it favors and encourages not just Baguio, but other local government units nationwide to pursue merger for a more viable, sustainable, and efficient management of barangay operations.
Association of Barangay Councils president Councilor Michael Lawana said about five years ago, the technical working group formed by former mayor Mauricio Domogan has agreed that merged barangays will be reduced to 33, based on the criteria prescribed in the Local Government Code.
Among these are for one barangay in a highly-urbanized city to have a minimum population of 5,000; delineation of boundaries; presence of “significant” infrastructure facilities such as multipurpose halls, health centers; and inclusion of contiguous areas in the merging of barangays.
Lawana said an average of six to eight barangays have been grouped to make up one new barangay.
He added the TWG has come up with substantial steps to realize the merger but implementation was stalled with barangay officials mainly raising issue about their chances of being elected or reelected under a new constituency.
The TWG also had no consensus about the merger needing to undergo plebiscite, albeit the LGC states that a barangay may be created, divided, merged, abolished, or its boundary substantially altered, by law, or ordinance subject to approval by a majority of votes cast in a plebiscite to be conducted by the Commission on Elections.
With Magalong set to issue an administrative order reconstituting the composition of the TWG, Lawana said the interim TWG is hoping that in the 2023 barangay elections, consolidation would have been realized.
“We hope to have a positive result on the merger before election 2023,” Lawana told the Courier.
Lawana said if the barangays are merged, the TWG will recommend a one- year transition period as this will result in the changing of the name of the consolidated barangay necessitating re-tagging of households and possibly change of addresses of households as a result.
“Mababago ang pangalan ng mga barangay. Magkakaroon ng renumbering ang mga kabahayan; may mga mapupunta sa ibang barangay kaya baka may mga mapalitan ang address,” Lawana said.
The TWG is composed of representatives of the ABC, City Planning and Development Office, City Budget Office, City Legal Office, City Assessor’s Office, DILG-Baguio, and Department of the Environment and Natural Resources.
When the TWG meets, its first agenda will be the City Assessor’s Office’s presentation of the merged barangays, and the CLO’s opinion on the whether or not the process will still need a plebiscite. – Rimaliza A. Opiña