June 4, 2023

The city council approved Ordinance 77, s. 2021 creating the “Recognizance Board of Baguio City.”
Republic Act 10389 institutionalizes recognizance as a mode of granting the release of an indigent person in custody as an accused in a criminal case, except those charged with crimes punishable by death and reclusion perpetua, before conviction by the court, regardless of whether the case was originally filed in or appealed to it.
The law has involved the city council to act on application for recognizance transmitted to it by the courts in the form of a resolution which would be used as basis of the court where the case is filed to allow the release of the accused on recognizance to the custody of a qualified member of the barangay, city or municipality where the accused resides.
Such added task for the local courts and city council necessitates technical assistance by a regular board for the expeditious processing and evaluation of applications for release on recognizance in furtherance of the constitutional right to bail by every person.
Among the duties and functions of the board are to develop rules and evaluation mechanisms to expedite the processes of determining the grant or denial of any application for recognizance, submit evaluation report on any application to the city council for the passage of the required resolution, and accredit non-government or private organizations or institutions for custodianship.
The board shall be chaired and co-chaired by the mayor and vice mayor, respectively, and its members are the chair of the city council committee on laws; the City Social Welfare and Development officer; the City Police director; and the regional directors or authorized representatives of the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology, the National Bureau of Investigation, the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency, and the Parole and Probation Board.
Funds for the purpose shall be appropriated in a separate measure and if needed, upon the recommendation of the board, the mayor may reassign or hire personnel for the board.
Further, a budget for the costs of documentation shall be set aside from the mandatory five percent calamity fund or from any available fund in the City Treasury Office.
To address the alarming increase of suicide cases in the city, the council through Resolution 356, s. 2021 is supporting and endorsing to the public available and reliable mental health helpline numbers for help or advice in coping with mental and emotional health problems brought about by the Covid pandemic.
These are 0919-069-6361 of the City Health Services Office and 0917-517-2083 of the Philippine Mental Health Association, Baguio-Benguet Chapter, Inc. The helplines are open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Friday.
Data on suicide cases attributed to Covid-19 pandemic’s impact on mental health from the CSWO showed that for the first semester of 2021, there were 19 incidents involving 16 males and three females compared to 24 cases reported in 2020.
Majority were aged 20 to 30 years old and the investigation result of their suicide include stressful life events, mental health issues or disorders, family and financial problems, among others, that led to depression.
The resolution stressed that mental health is important as physical health and must also be promoted and safeguarded through the helplines, and ensures that all calls and messages received at the helpline numbers are confidential.