June 20, 2024

Mayor Benjamin Magalong has taken full responsibility over the mistakes in the revised charter of the City of Baguio.

During the council’s session on May 27, the mayor said: “I, as the father of the City of Baguio and as head of the local government of Baguio, take full responsibility for the imperfections that were found in the revised charter.”

He confirmed that he and his office have gone over the proposed revisions then and have reviewed it as part of the reviewing committee.”

But Magalong cited the role of the city councilors in pointing out the provisions which they claimed are detrimental to the city and which do not serve the best interests of the residents.

He also acknowledged the lack of consultations while the law that revised the city charter was still being discussed as a bill.

“Now that we have a new set of councilors, I finally come to realize after they revealed to me some of the infirmities that are present in the new charter. I finally realized that one of the reasons for that is the lack of stakeholder engagement. I also take full responsibility for that,” he said.

Magalong made the manifestation as one of the officials invited to shed light on the possible implications of the Supreme Court decision upholding the arbitral ruling ordering the Camp John Hay Development Corp. to vacate the portion it leased at the CJH Special Economic Zone from Bases Conversion Development Authority.

The mayor’s statement is in connection with the flaws raised by the city council in some of the provisions in the revised city charter, which was authored by Rep. Mark Go and lapsed into law in April 2022.

Among the issues raised is the inclusion of a provision excluding the John Hay reservation from the Baguio townsite reservation as it was transferred by virtue of Republic Act 7227 to the BCDA and the inclusion of the John Hay Management Corp. in the Special Committee on Lands as a member.

The councilors consider said provisions as giving special treatment to BCDA to the detriment of the city and its people.

Councilors Jose Molintas and Fred Bagbagen reiterated the same, while the council discussed how the city will collect the 25 percent share of the city from the lease rentals paid by CJHDevCo to BCDA as provided for in the 19 conditions in the CJH management plan under Resolution 362, s. 1994.

They also pointed out another SC case, where BCDA has filed a motion for reconsideration on the high court’s ruling that BCDA must pay business taxes to the city, apparently citing the revised city charter as a ground.

City Legal Officer Althea Alberto has confirmed the revised city charter proviso was mentioned in BCDA’s MR as a supervening event, which happened during the pendency of the case.

Molintas said these are among the “hardships that the city had undergone with BCDA,” which they want the congressman to know and for him to not come up with a law that supports BCDA but one that should support the Baguio people.

Go, said he is not favoring BCDA but included BCDA in the revised charter with regards to John Hay and the agency’s role as provided for under RA 7227.

Go added before the revised charter bill became a law, the mayor and other city officials had participated in the deliberations. – Hanna C. Lacsamana