April 14, 2024

■  Rimaliza A. Opiña 

The long-delayed merger of barangays in Baguio can be realized if implemented in a nucleus area, according to a member of the task force formed by Mayor Benjamin Magalong to conduct a cost-benefit analysis on the merger of barangays.

TF member and City Election Officer John Paul Martin told the Midland Courier he proposed the merger of barangays in the central business district pending resolution of various issues in other barangays such as delineation of boundaries and division of national tax allocation.

Martin said it will be an opportune time for the incoming set of officers of the Liga ng mga Barangay to discuss a new option in the merger.

Compared to the proposal to trim the 129 barangays into 33, the CBD only merger is more feasible and could even “cure” the issue of Barangay Bagong Lipunan, the city’s 129th barangay that as of the October 2023 barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections still does not have registered inhabitants.

In the planned merger by the city government, 122 barangays will be merged into 26 barangays, while Irisan, Fairview, Gibraltar, Asin, Bakakeng Central, Sto. Tomas Proper, and Camp 7 will be “stand alone” barangays.

In the CBD only merger, barangays that will be merged are  A. Bonifacio-Caguioa-Rimando (ABCR), Abanao-Zandueta-Chugum-Kayang-Otek (Azcko), Bagong Lipunan, Harrison-Claudio Carantes, Kagitingan, Kayang-Hilltop, Kisad-Burnham-Legarda, Lower Gen. Luna, Malcolm Square-Perfecto, New Lucban, Rizal Monument, Session-Gov. Pack, Teodora Alonzo, and Upper Magsaysay.

A student of Political Science also finds the merger a chance to address the lack of SK officials in many barangays in Baguio. 

University of the Cordilleras Political Science student Erjann Jireh Fernandez, who appeared at the citizen’s forum of the city council on Nov. 20, appealed to the city council to pursue the merger of barangays and if possible, hold a plebiscite to be conducted simultaneous with the barangay and SK elections in 2025.

Fernandez said a special election or appointment to fill vacancies in order to reach a quorum is not sustainable, stressing that “public service is not something that cannot be coerced.”

Vice Mayor Faustino Olowan has welcomed the suggestion and assigned the SKF led by Councilor John Rhey Mananeng Jr., who officially assumed as one of the ex-officio members of the council also on Nov. 20, to study their fellow youth’s proposal. He assured the city council will assist the SKF in its pursuit.

Mananeng Jr. said he will invite Fernandez in one of their meetings, but pending the amendment of the law, the special election or appointment process will have to be followed.