March 21, 2023

A working committee created by the city council has conducted a consultation on the call to review the revised charter of Baguio which had lapsed into law last year.
In the public hearing on Feb. 28, Councilor Peter Fianza, chair of the committee on laws, justice, and human rights, said the council has felt the need to bring Republic Act 11689, the law revising the city charter authored by Rep. Mark Go, to the Baguio people to discuss concerns on some of the provisions of the new charter that were raised even before the bill creating it lapsed into law in April 22.
“The reason of this resolution is simply to have time for more consultations and address issues and other concerns that the sangguniang panlungsod felt were not taken into consideration,” Fianza said.
The issues raised by the council included the definition of territorial boundaries and the 19 conditions provided under Resolution 362, s. 1994 which was supposed to provide for the guidelines in the formulation by the Bases Conversion and Development Authority of the master development plan for Camp John Hay.
The city council also felt there was a need for a plebiscite on the revisions of the charter.
They are also questioning the basis of the increase of the area of Camp John from 570 to 625 hectares.
Fianza said by virtue of Proclamation 198 issued in 1993 on the transfer of the John Hay Air Station to BCDA, what was given under the proclamation was only 570 hectares, but for unknown reasons, Proclamation 420 was issued in 1994 identifying the special economic zone for John Hay with an area of 288 hectares, which shall be taken from an area surveyed by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.
“Then came our (new revised) charter which says 625 hectares for John Hay. If we consider other proclamations, the area should be decreased because we have excluded from this areas, for instance Barangay Kadaclan, which is about six hectares, the National Food Authority warehouse of two hectares, and other exclusions,” Fianza said.
Mayor Benjamin Magalong expressed support to the call, saying it’s time to invoke the rights of the city over Camp John Hay.
“On the segregation program, pati ako nababagalan na that it has to go through a very tedious bureaucratic process na parang ang local government ang nagmamakaawa na kailangan lumuhod pa tayo sa kanila para bigyan tayo. Simpleng simple lang na mga bagay na hinihingi natin tulad yung hinihingi ng Country Club (barangay) na isang open space para sa kanilang recreational center, hirap na hirap pa ako na I have to bring all the other agencies para lang tumugon. ‘Nung kumpleto na, again it has to go through a bureaucratic process,” Magalong said.
He said while the city acknowledges the BCDA’s right over the property, the slow progress and response to the city’s needs is becoming really frustrating.
“It has to go through a very tedious process, kaya talagang kailangan na nating i-review, revisit our charter para ma-invoke naman natin ang karapatan natin,” Magalong said.
He however asked the people to reexamine whether the city and its constituents are prepared in the event of taking over these properties, among others.
Magalong also took some of the responsibility in the “hasty” passage of the city’s revised charter, which he also found lacking when he went over the issues raised that were the basis of previous city council in asking then Pres. Rodrigo Duterte to veto the bill.
“I was going over some of the issues that were being raised against the city charter, I finally realized totoo nga, kumbaga namadali, (and so) we need to revisit it. I feel responsible also for not engaging more people in the crafting of our new charter. Inaamin ko may pagkukulang din ako. So to the city council, thank you very much for opening my eyes,” Magalong said.
Councilor Jose Molintas, who is also part of the working committee, said the public consultation is the first of a series of sessions with the public on the city charter, as well as the issues on the quest for an autonomous Cordillera region.
“We need to have a forum following the advocacy of the mayor for good governance. There should be people’s participation in the law-making process. It’s not always up going down; it should be from the grass going up in making laws.
Wala man lang plebiscite, kasatno tulagan dayta no awan imprimatur or approval ti umili, which is the normal thing to do, even for the 1987 Philippine Constitution, which was brought to the people to approve or reject. So if we approve it, we are bound by it, that is the essence of a plebiscite requirement, yet we do not find that,” Molintas said.
He said inputs from the fora will be compiled and submitted to the office of Go or take other actions if necessary. – Hanna C. Lacsamana