NEW BAGUIO CHARTER NEEDS A SECOND LOOK
The mammoth of issues and concern surrounding Republic Act 11689, or An Act Revising the Charter of Baguio City that lapsed into law last year show how the lack of public consultation can result in more problems rather than achieving a solution mutually acceptable to the general public.
Efforts at having the revised Baguio charter reviewed also proved the pulse of the public is paramount in any decision-making process and crafting of laws that will govern the affairs of the city and its constituents in decades.
The city council committee on laws, justice, and human rights that initiated a consultation on RA 11689 has acknowledged there was need to reexamine the law so people of Baguio may be involved in the discussion of concerns, which the august body believed were not addressed properly before the bill lapsed into law in April 2022.
Among the issues raised is the basis of the revised charter in increasing the area of Camp John Hay to 625 hectares from the previous 570 hectares.
Baguio and its people have a high stake when it comes to issues surrounding the former U.S. recreation base. The city government is already having problems on collecting its annual lease rental shares from the operations of Camp John Hay and the segregation of 13 barangays from the reservation then here comes a law that increases the land area of the reservation.
The public want to be enlightened on how the revised charter addresses the territorial boundary disputes between Baguio and the neighboring Benguet towns of Tuba and Itogon.
The public also would want to understand how the new charter addresses the issues of indigenous peoples and their long-sought clamor for full recognition of their ancestral land claims, especially the contentious provision of the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act that provides land ownership in Baguio should be through townsite sales application.
We believe these should be among the concerns that should have been specifically addressed in the revised charter.
To us, there should be no calls for a review of the law that is barely a year old only if there were enough consultations and inputs during those consultations were respected and incorporated in the proposed bill.
At this rate, we share the view the people of Baguio should be involved in the review of the city’s revised charter as they are the ones that are mostly affected.
At the same time, we call on Baguio residents to participate in the discussions of the city’s charter and share their inputs to improve the charter that will serve as the Bible of decision-makers in moving forward to protect the interests of the city and its people.
We reiterate our call for leaders to always make public interest their utmost priority whenever they come up with decisions for Baguio.