June 17, 2024

Mayors of Benguet who are members BLISTT Council are bracing for the opening of Baguio borders to tourists on Sept. 21, in a bid to reboot the city’s economy that is greatly affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Itogon Mayor Victorio Palangdan said Baguio’s opening to tourists is inevitable since the economy needs to move amidst the pandemic, adding the city’s plan will give chance for the economy that relies on tourism to recover.
Palangdan, who is also the president of the League of Municipalities Benguet chapter, said Itogon is also preparing to open its borders and other towns of the BLISTT area might follow suit.
Palangdan `said it is the sole discretion of Baguio City to open its borders when asked to comment on why other members of the BLISTT were not consulted.
“Is there a law that prohibits the opening of tourism? That is their discretion. As long as the health protocols are followed, then there is no problem,” Palangdan said.
La Trinidad Mayor Romeo Salda said proper coordination with members of the BLISTT is needed since protocols are needed to be established since Baguio’s tourists would eventually spill over especially to the outlying towns of Benguet.
He said tourists would still pass through the rest of Benguet such as in Tuba and Sablan as well as in Kabayan and Bokod, among other national roads where tourists could pass through going to Baguio City. He also mentioned the Cervantes-Mankayan Road, where tourists coming from Ilocos provinces might pass through to get to Baguio City. 
Tuba Mayor Clarita Sal-ongan stressed the need of coordination as courtesy to officials of Benguet.
“Being the chairman of the BLISTT Council, Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong should have coordinated his decision to us,” she said adding that it is the essence of the Council to coordinate in various issues such as the tourism opening, which is a health and economic concern. 
Tuba is known as the gateway to Baguio, with four highways going to the Summer Capital namely the Asin-Nangalisan-San Pascual Road, Palispis-Aspiras Highway, Kennon Road, and the Quirino Highway.
Sal-ongan echoed the sentiment of Salda that coordination is needed for them to also prepare for the expected influx of tourists. – Ofelia C. Empian