May 23, 2024

The current organizational structure at City Hall will remain even with the recent lapsing into law of the revised charter of Baguio, a city department head said.

City Budget Officer Letecia Clemente said at least in the next few years, no new offices will be created in view of the ongoing operational audit on City Hall in preparation for its ISO 9000 (International Organization for Standardization) certification, and the devolution of functions from the national to the local government as a result of the Mandanas-Garcia ruling.

Republic Act 11689 called for the creation of new offices such as City Disaster and Risk Reduction and Management Office, City Agriculture Office, City Tourism Office, Public Information Office, City Planning and Sustainability Development Office, Solid and Liquid Waste Management Office, City Population Office, Traffic and Transportation and Management Office, and City Cooperatives Office. 

Clemente said majority of the offices mentioned in the revised charter already exist as divisions in the different City Hall departments.

She added with the expected decrease in shares from the national tax allotment in 2023 and 2024, the creation of new offices or departments are not a priority at the moment because of additional costs it will entail.

“If we think that the present offices are able to address the needs of the people of Baguio, then we do not have to immediately implement it”, Clemente said.

At present, the only the position the city government has to fill-up is another department head for the City Health Services Office, in compliance with the Universal Health Care Act.

She said the charter can be used as reference by future chief executives if they feel that the current offices are no longer responsive to the demands of the times.

Procedures in the creation of a new department or office require recommendation from the city development council, budget allocation from the city council, and review by the Department of Budget and Management using the Index of Occupational Services, and the Civil Service Commission.

Meanwhile, former Baguio Rep. Nicasio Aliping, Jr. is pushing for a repeal of RA 11689 even when it has yet to take full effect.

Aliping once proposed a revised charter but this did not reach the bicameral conference committee after he withdrew his version of the charter.

He said the bill should have been presented to the people of Baguio through a plebiscite first before reaching the Office of the President.

“Public interest is at stake here especially those that concern the segregation of barangays from the Camp John Hay reservation,” Aliping said.

He added the revised charter is incomplete for it was not able to address boundary issues with the towns of Tuba and Itogon in Benguet. – Rimaliza A. Opiña