December 8, 2022

Officials of Baguio should seriously consider the long-sought merger of the city’s 129 barangays, a proposal that has been broached during the past and the current administration, but has unfortunately remained stuck on the drawing board.
The concerned barangays should take the cue from the recent communication from the Department of the Interior and Local Government-National Barangay Operations Office (NBOO), advising the city government to consider the consolidation of barangays for better delivery of services and better benefits for officials in the grassroots level.
NBOO Director IV Dennis Villaseñor, in his letter to Mayor Benjamin Magalong, said the DILG is encouraging not only Baguio, but also other local government units in the country to pursue merger for a more viable, sustainable, and efficient management of barangay operations.
Now is the best time for the barangay officials of Baguio to convene and seriously discuss the advantages of merger – and make it happen. They should take positively the DILG’s move of advocating for LGUs across the country to consolidate.
Unknown to many in Baguio, the people of Ormoc City in Leyte province have overwhelmingly ratified through a plebiscite an ordinance that sought for the merger of the city’s 28 barangays into three on Oct. 8, as they acknowledged it is the first step towards better governance in the grassroots level.
With the implementation of the Mandanas-Garcia Supreme Court ruling that increased the national tax allocation share of LGUs, the responsibilities that come with the increased budget have also become greater.
Much is expected from barangay officials with the devolution of functions that comes with the Mandanas-Garcia ruling implementation.
Especially, we expect them to deliver more improved or quality services, which will be realized if the number of barangays is rationalized so that the budget for personnel services of barangays with merely 100 or 500 residents could instead be used for development plans and programs to improve the residents’ quality of living.
Based on the 2020 population census by the Philippine Statistics Authority, out of Baguio’s 129 barangays, 15 have a population of between 5,001 and 15,000; one has over 15,000; 35 have between 2,001 and 5,000; 66 have between 501 and 2,000; eight have below 500; and four have less than 100.
It is only practical for barangays that do not meet the Local Government Code-prescribed minimum population of 5,000 to become a clustered barangay. To reiterate, the merger would allow a more viable and efficient management of their operations.
Merger would also allow barangays to better manage their resources, not only the financial aspect, but more especially their wealth, such as human and natural resources, that could help them in charting their development programs for their areas and their people.
Just like the Ormoc City experience, the consolidation will be a ri-gorous process, yes; but like any major undertaking, much more one that will involve changes in the vital information of people, such as their addresses, it must start if only to realize a better state of being.
While we understand the hesitance on the part of some barangay officials, as support to the plan will mean cutting the power of some, it is our wish these concerned officials must put greater public interest and common good first so the planned merger of barangays will move forward and be realized in the nearest future towards a better Baguio.

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